PRESS RELEASE: 17 December 2011
Christmas time hard on separated undocumented families
Hundreds of undocumented migrants, their families and supporters marched by candlelight to Dáil Éireann this afternoon on the eve of UN International Migrant to highlight the plight of the estimated 30,000 undocumented migrants living in Ireland. The march was led by a giant banner with ‘Justice for Undocumented’ written in Christmas lights and marchers holding giant stars saying ‘Santa is Undocumented too!’ The march was organised by the Justice for the Undocumented Campaign which is calling on the Irish Government and Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, TD, to introduce an Earned Regularisation Scheme which would give those who are undocumented in Ireland the opportunity to legalise their immigration status.
“Undocumented people live in under tremendous fear of deportation and have taken a great risk to be here today,” said Edel McGinley, Campaign Co-ordinator with the MRCI. “We are calling on the Government to provide a solution similar to the one the Irish government has been advocating for the Irish undocumented in the US. It’s time the government put its money where its mouth is and showed the same commitment in solving the undocumented crisis here.”
Speaking at the march, Jayson Montenegro, originally from the Philippines who has been living undocumented in Ireland for nearly eight years stated, “I haven’t seen my children in over eight years. Every year it gets harder, especially at Christmas. They ask me on the phone ‘Daddy, when are you coming to see us?’ It breaks my heart. He went onto say “the spirit of Christmas however is not only an ordinary occasion; it gives us hope, understanding and unity. I wish that in the future no family is separated from their loved ones. I hope that the government can help us find a way”.
Justice for the Undocumented Campaign member Sara, a Sri Lankan woman living undocumented for nine years with her sixteen year-old daughter who was recently ranked in the top 5% academically of all students in Ireland, spoke at the march. She told the crowd that, “I worry about my daughter’s future. What will happen to her when she wants to go to University? I want her to have a great life but I am really fearful for her future and that she won’t get that chance because she is undocumented.”
Dublin City Councillors were also recognised during the march for their recent December 6th motion to support undocumented migrants which the Council passed unanimously.* Councillor Rebecca Moynihan, the proposer of the DCC motion stated, “It would be disingenuous of us to support a similar campaign for Irish undocumented in the US while not extending the same consideration to undocumented migrants living in Ireland.”
Photographs available on request.
*Notes for Editors:
Text of the recent motion passed by Dublin City Council: 6 December 2011
This Council supports the undocumented Irish campaign in the US to introduce an earned regularisation scheme. This Council also notes with concern the high numbers of undocumented families and children living in Ireland without rights and under tremendous stress and fear. This Council supports the introduction of an earned regularisation scheme in Ireland, based on criteria set down by the Department of Justice, so that undocumented migrants living in Ireland can participate fully in the social, political and economic affairs of the country. This Council asks that the Minister for Justice be written to upon the passing of this motion to inform him of Dublin City Council's support for an earned regularisation scheme.