507. Deputy Darragh O’Brien asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of recent efforts to resolve the situation of the undocumented Irish in the United States; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 38350/17 asked on 11 Sep 2017)
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Government’s objectives regarding undocumented Irish citizens in the United States remain constant, namely, to achieve relief for the undocumented and facilitate greater pathways for legal migration to the United States.
In pursuit of these objectives, Ireland’s diplomatic representatives in the U.S. systematically avail of all opportunities to raise immigration, including the prospects for immigration reform and the situation of the undocumented Irish, with representatives of the Administration and Congressional members.
Last March the then Taoiseach, Mr. Enda Kenny, TD, used the opportunity of the Speaker’s Lunch, as well as his meetings with President Trump, Vice-President Pence, Speaker Ryan and other senior US leaders during the St. Patrick’s Day engagements in Washington DC, to raise immigration-related issues and to convey the continuing importance which we attach to them.
Subsequently, Taoiseach Varadkar spoke by phone with President Trump on the afternoon of Tuesday 27 June. During their conversation, the Taoiseach raised a number of issues, including the situation of the undocumented Irish in the US. The Taoiseach looks forward to having an opportunity to discuss this important issue with President Trump in more detail in due course.
The Government’s commitment to supporting the undocumented and engaging with the US administration on the issue has recently been reinforced by the appointment by the Taoiseach of Deputy John Deasy as Special Envoy to the United States Congress to work for the undocumented Irish.
Since being appointed as Special Envoy, Deputy Deasy has engaged with key congressional and senate members on both sides of the aisle, as well as with representatives of the Administration. Working closely with the Embassy and with the Consulates, Deputy Deasy visited Washington and New York from 23-to-28 July last and, just last week, he was in the US again for another series of meetings and consultations. Deputy Deasy has also visited a number of Irish immigration advice centres during these visits.
I am acutely aware of the very understandable concerns which exist among members of the Irish community in the US in light of recent developments in the immigration field under the new US Administration.
With this in mind, my Department has, through the Irish Embassy in Washington DC, obtained legal advice on the implications of those developments for undocumented Irish citizens in the US. This advice has been disseminated amongst Irish immigration centres in the United States and is available online.
The issues of immigration reform and the welfare of undocumented Irish citizens in the US. are a central plank of the work of Ireland’s diplomatic representatives in the US. The Embassy in Washington DC and our six Consulates across the US continue to work with Irish immigration centres to provide support to undocumented Irish citizens.
I can assure the Deputy of the Government’s continued commitment to pursuing these matters on behalf of our affected citizens in the U.S.