Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Ceisteanna (59, 60, 61)

Michael Ring

Ceist:

188 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the issue of Irish citizens living illegally in America was raised with President Bush during his recent visit; [20501/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

213 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on recent contact he has had with the US State Department regarding immigration reform, especially in relation to the approximately 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24981/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

227 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the issue of the 50,000 or so undocumented Irish immigrants in the US was raised with President Bush during his recent visit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20189/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 188, 213 and 227 together.

The Government's concern regarding the situation of the undocumented Irish in the United States is raised regularly in our bilateral contacts with the US authorities, including when the Taoiseach and my predecessor met President Bush at the EU-US summit in Dromoland in June 2004. In this regard, we welcome the various proposals in this area which have been made by President Bush and by certain members of Congress. These initiatives reflect a recognition of the importance of addressing the situation of the undocumented in the US in a constructive and sympathetic way. These proposals will, of course, have to be considered by the US Congress and, realistically, there is very unlikely to be any movement until after the presidential inauguration in the new year.

In addition to the political level discussions, our embassy in Washington DC regularly raises this issue with the US authorities, in particular with the Department of Homeland Security which has responsibility for immigration services. The embassy and our network of consulates also work closely with voluntary Irish organisations in the US which provide assistance and support to vulnerable Irish people. These organisations receive significant financial support from the Government and I would again like to pay a warm tribute to their valuable work. We will continue actively to seek support for measures that would help alleviate the situation of undocumented Irish people in the United States.