- In documentary short Half the World Away: Undocumented in Dublin and New York, Patrick and Marites share their fears, their hopes, and their pain at being separated from family at Christmas.
- Film was pre-screened for politicians in Leinster House at an event hosted by Justice Committee member Senator Katherine Zappone.
Patrick is from Cork, Ireland. Marites is from Batangas in the Philippines. He lives in New York and works in construction; she lives in Dublin and works as a childminder. On the surface, their lives are very different, but they have a shared story: both Patrick and Marites are undocumented. In new 5-minute documentary Half the World Away: Undocumented in Dublin and New York, Patrick and Marites open up about the lives they have built over the past decade, the fear they experience daily, and the pain of being away from their families.
Patrick has lived and worked undocumented in the US for 12 years, and says in the film, “There’s a constant fear… There’s a lot of moments where even though I’m surrounded by millions of people, I’m just alone here.”
The new film was produced by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), which is campaigning for regularisation for undocumented migrants in Ireland. Along with Patrick and Marites, the film features Patrick’s mother and sister in Kilworth, Co. Cork and Marites’ mother and son in Batangas in the Philippines.
Helen Lowry, MRCI spokesperson states, “Half the World Away brings together the stories of the undocumented on both sides of the Atlantic. Patrick and Marites are speaking out on camera for the very first time, and their bravery is inspiring. Making this film was an emotional experience for all of us. So many Irish families are looking forward to welcome loved ones home next week for Christmas, but undocumented people like Patrick and Marites have to spend Christmas away from their families.”
Helen Lowry continues, “It’s three continents and two families, but one shared story: the heartache of spending Christmas away from those you love.”
Marites says, “Patrick and I have never met, but in our hearts we both carry the same hope for 2016: immigration reform on both sides of the Atlantic, so that we can go home and see our families at last.”
Patrick’s mother Una has the last word in the film, saying of the immigration reform that would allow Patrick to travel home: “It would mean an awful lot. The whole family would be heading for Shannon Airport if he could come back. So hopefully one day it will happen.”
Aoife Murphy, MRCI Communications 086 368 7901
NOTES TO EDITOR:
- Marites has been in Ireland for 10 years.
- Patrick has been in the US for 12 years.
- Both Marites and Patrick entered their respective countries on valid visas but subsequently became undocumented.
- In both Ireland and the US, once you are undocumented it is almost impossible to regularise your status except in very limited circumstances. They cannot leave to visit their families as this would expose them to the authorities and they would then be unable to return to the US (in Patrick’s case) and Ireland (in Marites’ case)
Last month, the Oireachtas Justice Committee recommended that Minister Frances Fitzgerald introduce a regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants in Ireland, which would allow Marites to regularise her status and travel to visit her family.
There are an estimated 11 million undocumented people in the US, including approximately 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants.
The MRCI estimates the number of undocumented people in Ireland at c. 26,000 (see further stats here).
Undocumented migrants on both sides of the Atlantic are campaigning for the introduction of regularisation schemes to allow them to come forward and regularise their immigration status.