Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (225)

Micheál Martin


225. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on meeting groups representing the undocumented Irish when he is in Washington, USA, in March; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6832/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The welfare of the Irish abroad in general and especially the position of undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States remains an important priority for the Government. A resolution of the situation for undocumented Irish migrants will continue to be an important priority for the Government in our ongoing contacts with the US Administration and Congress. This issue will remain a central feature of the Government’s engagement with the US authorities over the St Patrick’s day period, and my programme and that of other members of the Government, while not yet finalised, will include meetings with key political figures and the Irish community groups that provide assistance to the undocumented. 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 have advanced in the wake of President Obama’s re-election. The emphasis he placed on immigration reform in his inauguration address as well as in subsequent speeches, including the State of the Union address, sent a very positive signal in this regard. The indications of emerging bipartisan support for reform in Congress is also encouraging. Much further debate and discussion is likely to be required within the US political system before the shape of any legislative deal is clear. It is therefore not possible at this stage to 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.