Press Centre

Undocumented children and parents make a Christmas wish at the Dáil

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) 18 December 2014

On International Migrants Day, Barnardos and MRCI call on the Government to give undocumented migrants the chance to regularise their status

A group of undocumented parents and children met outside the Dáil today (Thursday 18th December) to mark International Migrants Day 2014 and to call on the Irish government to give hope to the undocumented migrants, including thousands of children, who have made Ireland home.

Mostofa, who lives undocumented in Ireland with his 4-year-old son, said “I work here, I contribute, but because I am undocumented I am afraid all the time. This is the only home my son has ever known. How can I tell him he has no future here? Thanks to President Obama, the undocumented Irish in America have hope this Christmas. I hope the Taoiseach will soon give hope to the undocumented in Ireland.”

New research estimates there are up to 5,100 undocumented children in Ireland. These children face very uncertain futures. They are more at risk of social exclusion and child poverty due to their parents’ undocumented status, with no access to social protection and universal payments such as child benefit. They face further uncertainty as they grow older: unlikely to progress to third level, unable to access the labour market, and trapped in a legal limbo.

Helen Lowry of Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) stated, “Currently, the vast majority of undocumented migrants in Ireland have no way to regularise their status. Barack Obama has committed to regularising millions of undocumented people in the US, because separating families is in no one’s interest. Irish politicians have lobbied the US government for this for many years; it’s time they acknowledged the undocumented families right here in Ireland as well.”

June Tinsley, Head of Advocacy in Barnardos, said “There are thousands of children living undocumented in Ireland, and this is the only home they have ever known. All children need stability in their lives and this group is no exception. Their childhood is being compromised because of their parents’ legal situation. We are long overdue a system to regularise these families so they can move on with their lives.”

Rebecca and her daughter have lived in Ireland since 2002. Rebecca supports them both through her work as a cleaner. “My daughter grew up here. She excelled in school – she’s very smart, and such a hard worker – but last year she began to realise that no matter how hard she worked, going to college or getting a good job as an undocumented adult would be impossible.  She feels hopeless, and this has led her to experience great mental distress and anguish. As her mother I am heartbroken.”

A Christmas card from undocumented migrants was delivered to every member of the Oireachtas this week. The card was drawn by an undocumented child living in Ireland and asks politicians to make 2015 a year of change and hope for undocumented migrants on both sides of the Atlantic.

ENDS

***Photocall Thurs 18 December at 10.30am outside Leinster House on Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Rebecca, Mostofa and other undocumented members of the group are available for interview. Please call Aoife on 086 3687901.

CONTACT

Aoife Murphy, MRCI Communications Officer 086 3687901

NOTES

International Migrants Day (December 18th): 1 in every 33 people in the world is a migrant. UN International Migrants Day celebrates the contribution migrants make globally, along with the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. 2015 will mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention. Ireland has yet to ratify this convention, which upholds protections for all migrants, including undocumented migrants.

‘Ireland is Home’ MRCI research findings:

New MRCI estimates set the number of undocumented children in Ireland at between 2,423 and 5,106 and the number of undocumented adults at between 20,000 and 26,000.

Of 540 undocumented migrants surveyed,

  • 44% have children under the age of 18
  • 21% have children here with them in Ireland
  • 33% are currently paying income tax
  • 1 in 5 is here over 10 years

Full policy paper and accompanying infographic available here: http://www.mrci.ie/resources/publications/ireland-is-home-survey-policy-paper-on-the-lives-of-undocumented-migrants-in-ireland/