Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Smith TD, says there must now be a concerted effort by the Government to ensure there is widespread support for officially recognising the 50,000 undocumented Irish in the US.
Deputy Smith raised this issue in the Dáil today and asked the Tánaiste to ensure that every effort will be made to seek broad support for legislation in the US to help the undocumented Irish gain citizenship.
“There needs to be ongoing and continuous engagement with US politicians from both the Republican and Democrat parties to gain as much support as possible for the proposals to reform US immigration laws,” said Deputy Smith.
“Let there be no mistake about it, unless there is considerable support from the Republican side, the proposed legislation will be doomed to failure. While it is important to keep the communication open with the Democratic Party which would traditionally have a strong American –Irish tradition; more must be done to convince the wider Republican Party of the merits of providing a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented people in the US.
“While the Tánaiste informed the Dáil that he has met with certain Republican Party members; these are Members that are already in favour of this legislation. The real battle will be convincing Members that are against providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
“The so-called illegal Irish only account for a tiny per cent of the undocumented citizens but our influence is a lot larger. The Tánaiste must make a concerted effort to engage with a broad selection of Republican Senators and present the case for the undocumented Irish who have contributed and still contribute so much to the US economy.
“In addition, the Tánaiste must also work to put pressure on the US Congress to extend the E3 visa to Irish immigrants. This would allow Irish immigrants to apply for a special class of working visa.”