Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade Niall Collins says the government should be stepping up its engagement with the US administration to increase protection for the undocumented Irish in the United States.

His comments come following the arrest and threatened deportation of Cork man Keith Byrne, a married father of three, who has been living in the States for the past 12 years.

Deputy Collins said, “This case highlights the very real issues facing Irish people who may have overstayed their visa in the US but who have married, are raising children and have set up homes and lives in the States. They are working, paying taxes and contributing to their communities but are living in fear of deportation.

“Here in Ireland we recently introduced the Migrant Regularisation Scheme, which would allow certain undocumented migrants gain legal status in this country. The scheme is open to people who came to Ireland as international students between 2005 and 2010.

“I believe our government should be engaging more whole-heartedly with its counterparts in the US and emphasising the benefits of the Migrant Regularisation Scheme and similar programmes here in Ireland. They should be exploring the possibility of examining a similar scheme for the undocumented Irish in the US.

“The links between Ireland and the US have always been strong and our diaspora play a key role in maintaining relationships. It is vitally important that these connections are supported into the future”, concluded Deputy Collins.