Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Questions (141)

Michael Moynihan


141. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of plans to deal with the undocumented Irish since the series of St. Patrick's Day visits. [16360/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Taoiseach and I have prioritised the issue of Irish immigration in the US since taking office. We will continue our efforts in this regard until we secure progress – both in terms of future legal immigration opportunities for Irish citizens; and in securing a pathway for those Irish who are undocumented in order to regularise their status.

Special Envoy to the US Congress on the Undocumented, Deputy John Deasy, has worked closely on these issues with my Department, and with Ireland's Ambassador to the US, Dan Mulhall, and his team at the Embassy in Washington, DC, in particular, since his appointment.

Building on this work, I visited the US in early February for a series of engagements with the US Administration and Congressional leaders on the full range of issues of mutual interest.  I raised immigration issues in these meetings, as I have done in all my interactions with the US Administration and US political leaders since taking office.

Additionally, the Taoiseach had a range of engagements at the highest levels of the US Administration and with Congressional leaders over the St Patrick's Day period. Eight other Government Ministers were also in the US over St Patrick's Day for one of our most ambitious ever programmes of engagement. They, too, were fully seized of the importance of securing relief for the undocumented Irish and raised the issue, as appropriate.

Following on from these many engagements over St. Patrick's Day, officials in my Department, including those in our Embassy in Washington, D.C., are following up with the contacts made and will reengage with US officials on issues of concern, such as the undocumented Irish.

In addition to this work, my Department, including through our Embassy and Consulates in the US, consistently works alongside the Irish Immigration Centres across the US to provide support to those Irish who are undocumented on an ongoing basis. Each Irish Centre receives significant Government funding through the Emigrant Support Programme each year for its work, including support for vulnerable Irish and the undocumented. In 2018, over €3 million was allocated to 76 organisations across the US, including the Irish Centers.