“We’re here today to send a message to political leaders travelling to Washington: we need immigration reform here in Ireland too. We’re here to remind them that there are undocumented migrants in Ireland too. We’re here in solidarity with undocumented migrants everywhere, especially the undocumented Irish in the US this St. Patrick’s Day.
We are so happy there are so many supporters here today to support our campaign. Today we stand strong in solidarity with undocumented migrants on both sides of the Atlantic. We are calling on our political leaders to act with integrity and think of their home country and the situation here as they travel abroad for St Patrick’s Day; to remember us as they ask US leaders to think of the Irish undocumented there. We too work hard in our adopted country, we too are unable to travel home for funerals and weddings, we too are simply asking for a chance to come forward and stop living in fear.”
We’re here because undocumented migrants are part of Ireland, we’re part of families and workplaces and communities in every county from Cork to Donegal. Today is not a day for our sad stories; today is a day to celebrate what we bring to Ireland and to say, we belong here. Like the undocumented Irish across America, we are here a long time, we’ve put down roots and we are making a valuable contribution. We’re working here, we’re living here, we belong here.”
Jayson Montenegro, carer, here 12 years
Irene, child minder, here 9 years
Debra, carer, here 10 years
Priya, cleaner, here 7 years and raising a family in Ireland
This statement was made at the start of a street party (details in Friday’s media note) in Dublin on Sunday 13th to show support for Justice for the Undocumented and launch a city centre banner sending St Patrick’s Day wishes from undocumented migrants in Ireland to undocumented migrants in the US. Tomorrow, the Taoiseach and other representatives will travel to the US and will undoubtedly raise the issue of the undocumented Irish with President Obama and others, as successive Governments have done year after year.
Justice for the Undocumented (JFU) is a campaign group of 1400 undocumented workers and families in Ireland. The group was founded in the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) 6 years ago; in the beginning it had just 6 members. Jayson, Irene, Debra and Priya are part of a core group of campaign leaders. For more on the campaign and undocumented migrants, please see http://www.mrci.ie/our-work/justice-for-undocumented/
A regularisation proposal from MRCI & JFU, which would allow undocumented migrants the chance to re-enter the immigration system, is supported by a diverse coalition of business, political and civil society groups, including ISME, Barnardos, SIPTU, Chambers Ireland, and Dublin City Council.
Key statistics from MRCI’s survey of 540 undocumented people in Ireland:
– 87% are working
– 81% have been here for 5 years or more
– 21% have been here for 10 years or more
– 44% are parents
– 53% have 3rd-level education
– people of 29 different nationalities were surveyed, but the top 5 were Filipino, Chinese, Mauritian, Brazilian and Pakistani.
– 86.5% entered the country legally and subsequently became undocumented