Written Answers. - Illegal Emigrants.

James Breen

Question:

161 Mr. J. Breen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will seek an amnesty for the very many Irish emigrants living illegally in the USA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11008/03]

The issue of the status and conditions of undocumented Irish emigrants living in the US is one that is reviewed on a constant basis by the embassy in Washington and the consulates. In this regard, and despite what all of us may wish, the reality is that at present there seems little likelihood of any special measures being introduced to regularise the position of undocumented Irish people in the US.

Our embassy and consulates maintain a close working relationship with the Irish immigration groups in the United States. Through this channel and through their broader contacts with the Irish community, the embassy and the consulate monitor the situation with regard to the undocumented Irish in the United States.

An annual sum, $300,000 in 2002, has been provided in the Vote for Foreign Affairs to assist groups in the US working with the Irish immigrants there. One very welcome development is the close co-ordination and co-operation between immigrant advice groups funded by the Government, largely as a result of the formation of the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centres in 1995.

The diversity programme, DV, or Schumer visa lottery was introduced in 1994, and remains an important avenue of legal emigration from Ireland to the US.