As the Deputy will appreciate, irregular migration, by its very nature, is clandestine. It is not uncommon for people who are here illegally to go to extreme lengths to avoid contact with the authorities. Consequently, it is inherently difficult to quantify the extent of irregular migration. This is particularly so with respect to minors.
I recognise that there are some cases where young people have grown up here but who, as a result of their parents’ illegal status, find themselves in a difficult situation. My officials and I have ongoing engagement with non-governmental organisations about these cases. I met with the Migrant Rights Council of Ireland in June of this year to discuss the issue of children who have grown up here in such circumstances. The MRCI presented an outline proposal to deal with legacy cases of people who have been undocumented for six years or more for consideration. I assured the MRCI that I am willing to explore all legal solutions.
However, it is important to emphasise once again that when it comes to people living here illegally, the only option for regularisation is on a case by case basis. People must engage with the authorities if they wish to be permitted, legally, to remain here.
For those who are in the State illegally, a full consideration of all aspects of their case is carried out before a decision is made to grant permission to remain in the State or to make a Deportation Order. This will include a consideration of their private and family life rights, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.
I would encourage any person who is resident in the State without permission to contact the Immigration Service of my Department or their local immigration office and to take all appropriate steps to regularise their status.