Press Centre

New Immigration Bill Denies Undocumented Migrants Access to Justice

PRESS RELEASE: 5 July 2010

MRCI says Government must not deport people without notice.

The newly-published Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 denies access to justice to some of the most vulnerable people in the State, according to the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI).

According to this Bill, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform has the power to deport a person from Ireland without any notice, or any right to present their case (1).  Director of MRCI, Ms Siobhán O’Donoghue, highlighted that, “an undocumented migrant who has been exploited, or is in a situation of forced labour, would not be able take their employer to court, to claim unpaid wages for example, but instead would be put on a plane without any access to redress. This makes a mockery of all other efforts by the State to protect workers and hold rogue employers to account.”

Ms O’Donoghue called for the current system to be maintained, which gives people 15 days to present their case to the Minister for Justice and Law Reform. “Any immigration system must ensure that the basic human right of access to justice is protected. This means maintaining the current minimum safeguards, and ensuring that undocumented migrants are given the opportunity to come forward and outline their circumstances.”

According to MRCI the Bill fails to recognise the ad-hoc immigration system implemented over the past few decades, which has led to many people who entered the country legally becoming undocumented.  Instead, the Bill further victimises undocumented people in the State, by explicitly denying them basic rights and driving already vulnerable people into destitution and marginalisation (2).  In addition, it inappropriately asks employers, health workers and service providers to become immigration law enforcement agents.

Ms O’Donoghue finished by outlining the hypocrisy of the State’s lobbying efforts for the rights of undocumented Irish people in the United States; “Summary deportation must be removed from this Bill if Ireland is to be taken seriously as a State concerned with upholding human rights.  In addition, just as our Government is promoting a humanitarian response to undocumented migrants in the U.S., they must respond to the estimated 30,000 undocumented migrants in Ireland. A regularisation programme is one response that must be considered before the Bill is enacted.”

End

 

Notes for Editors:

(1) See Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010: Part 2, Section 6, Paragraphs 6 & 7; also Part 6 Removal From the State

(2) See Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010: Section 9

The Bill can be accessed at: www.oireachtas.ie