Wednesday, 6 October 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Undocumented Irish in the USA
55. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the recent efforts made by his Department to highlight the plight of the undocumented Irish in the United States of America; the progress made in relation to securing citizenship for them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48432/21]
Addressing the situation of undocumented Irish emigrants in the US and working to secure legal pathways for Irish people wishing to live and work in the US have been priority issues for successive Governments and continue to be key priorities for the current Government.
Immigration issues continue to be raised on an ongoing basis in our engagement with US Administrations and political leaders. During his St. Patrick's Day virtual visit this year, the Taoiseach raised the matter directly with President Biden. I also raised immigration issues in my meetings on Capitol Hill during my most recent visit to Washington, DC. These engagements will continue as we maintain close relations with Members of Congress and contacts from across the political spectrum in the US, and as we seek opportunities to deepen and strengthen our bilateral relations with President Biden's Administration.
I am pleased to see that immigration issues, including possible pathways to citizenship, are a priority for President Biden, as demonstrated by his proposed US Citizenship Act of 2021. I look 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. We will actively engage with the Administration and Congress on this matter, including through our Embassy in Washington, D.C. The Government continues to pursue the E3 Visa Bill, which, if passed, could allow access to thousands of US visas each year to Irish citizens, providing new opportunities to live and work in the US.
Through our Embassy in Washington, D.C., as well as our Consulates across the US, my Department works closely with Irish immigration centres, which support the needs of Irish citizens. The Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers receives significant annual funding through the Government’s Emigrant Support Programme. Last year, in response to the pandemic, a dedicated COVID-19 Response Fund for Irish Communities Abroad was set up to help these organisations meet the needs of those who are particularly vulnerable. In 2020, over €4.25m was paid to diaspora organisations in the US for ESP and Covid-19 related projects.