Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brendan Smith TD has welcomed President Obama’s proposals to overhaul the US immigration system which will hopefully legalise the status of the 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US. Fianna Fáil in Government actively lobbied both the US President and US Congress seeking action on the undocumented Irish. Since 2011, Deputy Smith has raised the cause of the undocumented Irish with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade throughout the current Dáil term.

Deputy Smith stated, “This Government needs to use all the influence it has to guarantee that the undocumented Irish are catered for in this new legislation. Under Obama’s plan, undocumented parents of U.S. citizens will qualify only if they have lived in the country at least five years — since Jan. 1, 2010. I understand that the US administration will be ready to begin taking applications in the spring of next year. This is very welcome news for the undocumented Irish who have been unable to return to Ireland because of their legal status.

“President Obama’s decision should act as an impetus to reform Ireland’s Direct Provision system. Fianna Fáil share a number of concerns surrounding the policy of direct provision, in particular the excessively long waiting time before an asylum application has been decided. We believe legislation should be brought forward immediately to create a new single integrated process of application for asylum with specific targets on reducing the waiting period for a decision. Fianna Fáil sought to pass legislation in 2010 (Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010) which allowed for a new single integrated process of application for protection which would replace applications for refugee status, subsidiary protection and leave to remain. We call on the Minister for Justice and Equality to bring forward this legislation immediately.”