Tuesday, 1 March 2022
Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters
Undocumented Irish in the USA
I thank the Senator for raising this important matter. Addressing the situation of undocumented Irish immigrants in the USA and working to secure legal pathways for those wishing to regularise their status has been, as the Senator rightly pointed out, a priority issue for successive Governments and continues to be a priority for the current Government. Emigration matters continue to be raised by senior members of the Government at every opportunity and will be a key issue raised during the upcoming series of St. Patrick's Day engagements, not least by the Taoiseach with President Biden. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Coveney, has also raised the matter of the Irish undocumented on a number of occasions, including in high-level meetings during his most recent visit to Washington DC. The Government continues to seek opportunities to deepen and strengthen Ireland's bilateral relationship with the US Administration under President Biden and members of Congress, particularly on a bipartisan basis. The promotion of solutions to the undocumented Irish in the US is a key part of that relationship. The Department of Foreign Affairs, through our embassy in Washington DC, continues to prioritise immigration issues and to develop immigration pathways for our citizens through active engagement with the US Administration and political leaders at all levels. We seek opportunities to deepen and strengthen our bilateral relations with President Biden's Administration.
We are pleased to see that immigration issues, including possible pathways to citizenship, are a priority for President Biden as demonstrated by his proposal in the US Citizenship Act of 2021. The Government looks forward to working with his Administration, as well as with the US Congress, on a bipartisan basis as they pursue comprehensive immigration reform in the US.
Through our embassy in Washington, as well as our seven consulates general across the US, the Government works closely with Irish immigration centres that provide support and information to our citizens, including the undocumented. Many of these groups, including the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers, receive significant annual funding through the Government's emigrant support programme.
In response to the pandemic, a dedicated Covid-19 response fund was also set up for Irish communities to help these organisations meet the needs of those who are particularly vulnerable, including the undocumented Irish in the US. In 2021, over €4.22 million was paid to diaspora organisations in the US from the emigrant support programme and Covid-related projects and support thereof.