Thursday, 13 December 2012

Questions (53)

Brendan Smith

Question:

53. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has raised the matter of US immigration reform and the status of the undocumented Irish with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her recent visit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56191/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Government continues to attach particular importance to the welfare of the Irish abroad in general and especially to the position of undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States. A resolution of the situation for undocumented Irish migrants will continue to be pursued by the Government in our ongoing contacts with the US Administration and Congress. The advice of Ireland’s friends and contacts within the US Administration and Congress has long been that comprehensive reform of the US immigration system and procedures is likely to be the only manner by which such a resolution can be achieved. The prospects for such reform would appear to have advanced in the wake of President Obama’s re-election.

Through our Embassy in Washington and in close liaison with Irish-American community representatives, our contacts with the US Administration and Congress will intensify over the coming weeks and months with a view to ensuring that the interests and concerns of undocumented Irish immigrants are captured in any future legislative deal in this area that emerges. In this regard, I raised the issue with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during our bilateral meeting on 6 December last and recalled our strong support for comprehensive immigration legislation and the passage of E3 visas for Irish citizens. Much further debate and discussion is likely to be required within the US political system as to what any future legislative deal might comprise. It is therefore not possible at this stage to specify its contents or identify an exact timescale in which these may become clear but the area will continue to receive the Government’s close attention over the period ahead.