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Undocumented Irish in the USA

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 10 May 2022

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Questions (452)

Bernard Durkan


452. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which undocumented Irish in the United States can expect to have their situations resolved; the extent to which he has had discussions with his United States counterparts on the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23432/22]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Providing ongoing support, along with finding long-term solutions, to address the challenges faced by the undocumented Irish in the US, remains a key priority for this Government.

The issue was raised during our high-level political engagements over the St. Patrick’s Day period across the US, not least at the bilateral exchange between the Taoiseach and President Biden. I also raised immigration issues, including the situation of the undocumented Irish, in my meetings on Capitol Hill during my most recent visit to Washington, DC at the end of April. These engagements will continue as we maintain close relations with Members of Congress and contacts from across the political spectrum in the US, and as we seek opportunities to deepen and strengthen our bilateral relations with President Biden's Administration.Our Embassy in Washington D.C. and our network of Consulates across the US continue to raise immigration issues, seek new immigration pathways, and support US immigration reform through active engagement at all levels with the US Administration and political leaders.

An example of this is a bill passed by the Massachusetts State Senate this week which would enable undocumented immigrants to acquire a Massachusetts Driving License. Our Consulate in Boston has supported this practical initiative which will improve the lives of our undocumented citizens living in that region. I met with Governor Charlie Baker in Boston last week and underlined the importance of immigration issues.

The Government remains committed to providing support and annual funding to the US Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers through our Emigrant Support Programme. These facilities, in turn, provide support to Irish citizens, including the undocumented Irish in the US. In 2020, in response to the pandemic, a dedicated COVID-19 Response Fund for Irish Communities abroad was set up to help these organisations meet the needs of those who are particularly vulnerable. In 2021, over €4.2 million was provided to diaspora organisations in the US for emigrant support and Covid-19 related projects.