Dáil debates

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions

Undocumented Irish in the USA

6:00 pm

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

The Government continues to pursue two key objectives with regard to Irish immigration to the United States: first, increased pathways for legal migration by Irish citizens to the US; and second, seeking some form of relief for undocumented Irish citizens living in the US. The Taoiseach and I continue to prioritise this issue in all our engagements with the US administration and Congress. I discussed the Ireland-EU-US relationship with my Government colleagues earlier this month and we reiterated the priority that the Government attaches to Irish immigration issues in the US. The Government’s special envoy to the US Congress on the undocumented, Deputy Deasy, has been active on the issue, and our embassy in Washington, D.C. continues to engage on an ongoing basis with the administration and with a wide range of contacts on Capitol Hill.

I welcome the recent tabling of a bill in the US Congress that, if passed, would allow Ireland to avail of E3 visas and provide another very welcome pathway for Irish people to gain experience in the US. I do not underestimate the significant difficulties involved in securing the passage of this bill, requiring as it does a two thirds majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate.

The Government, through the work of the embassy and of Deputy Deasy, will continue to engage proactively with the US administration and elected representatives, both Democratic and Republican, on Irish immigration issues and specifically on this bill.

The Government's efforts to assist the undocumented Irish in the US will also continue, as they have under previous administrations. This remains a very challenging issue, however, as immigration reform has been a sensitive and divisive issue within the US political system for decades.

On the welfare of the undocumented Irish, the embassy, as well as our six consulates across the United States, work closely with Irish immigration centres which support the needs of Irish citizens in the United States, including those who are undocumented. These centres all receive annual funding from the Government’s emigrant support programme to support their important work.


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