Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Questions (130)

Niall Collins


130. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts being made to secure surplus E3 visas for Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24072/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Taoiseach and I have prioritised the issue of Irish immigration to 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 also 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, John Deasy T.D., has also worked closely on these issues with my Department.   

I visited the US in early February, for a series of engagements with the US Administration and Congressional leaders.  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.  The Taoiseach also discussed the issue in his engagements over the St Patrick's Day period.  In April, I was delighted to host events to mark the visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. The Speaker and accompanying Congressional delegation were fully briefed on Irish interests, including immigration issues. 

I was pleased to note that an E3 Bill, which if passed, would offer new opportunities for Irish citizens to live and work in the US, was subsequently reintroduced into the US Congress.  Much work still needs to be done for this Bill to become a reality, and we are under no illusions as to the challenging path ahead.  

Special Envoy Deasy was in Washington D.C. in mid-May in connection with the Bill, and was supported in his work by the Americas Unit of my Department, and Ireland’s Embassy in Washington, DC.  

Given its importance, the Taoiseach also raised the Bill with President Trump when he visited last week, and the President commented positively, indicating his support.  Our Embassy in Washington, D.C. continues its extensive outreach in support of the Bill, working with a range of members of the US House of Representatives and the Senate, from both sides of the aisle.