Undocumented Migrants

MRCI estimates that there are between 20,000 and 26,000 undocumented migrants - including children and families - living and working in Ireland. The majority have been here many years. They are deeply rooted within our communities, are making a valuable contribution and have made Ireland their home. Our Justice for the Undocumented (JFU) group has over 1400 undocumented members and, with allies and supporters, is working hard for a solution. JFU is calling for the introduction of a regularisation scheme to allow undocumented migrants the chance to come forward and regularise their situation.


  • JFU conference highlights the moral and economic rationale for regularisation

    On Tuesday May 3rd 2016, MRCI and the JFU campaign hosted a conference, Undocumented in Ireland: the moral and economic rationale for regularisation, in the Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin. This conference offered a vital and timely exploration of the need for a regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants in Ireland. Two excellent panels explored firstly the moral rationale from the perspective of children and young people growing up undocumented in Ireland and secondly the economic rationale for regularisation. The conference included the launch of findings from new research carried out with over 1000 undocumented migrants and a spoken word performance by Young, Paperless and Powerful, a group of undocumented young people. See our conference programme here. Inputs and speakers included:

    Children's Rights Alliance: a children's rights perspectiveLondon School of Economics: impact of regularisation on the London and UK economyISME: an employer perspective on regularisationMRCI 2016 research and regularisation proposal,  Paul Gilligan St Patrick's Hospital: Emotional Health of undocumented childrenPICUM: protections for undocumented children and young people

    Young, Paperless and Powerful

    Young, Paperless and Powerful is a creative youth project for undocumented young people in Ireland. We use art, film, spoken word and fun to tell it as it is about growing up in Ireland without papers. This is an effort by the Justice for the Undocumented (JFU) campaign to raise awareness of the situation facing children of undocumented migrants in Ireland and build their voice and critical participation in the campaign.

    We estimate there are between 2000-5000 children and young people born to undocumented parents. Undocumented young people consider Ireland their home, yet have no right to residency or citizenship and are in a legal limbo upon leaving secondary school and attempting to get a job or access further education. We know this is hard on the mental health and well-being of young people growing up with this burden. We are currently outreaching to young people who came to Ireland with or to join their parents who do not have legal residency in Ireland i.e. don’t have an immigration stamp, a GNIB card or an ORAC card. Our first session/meeting is in early June. This is an opportunity for young people meet others in the same situation as them, get support, have fun and get active in the fight for change. Want to get involved? Learn more. Email dearbhla@mrci.ie to get involved.

  • Undocumented in Dublin & New York – watch our most recent film now

    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 Patrick and Marites have a shared story: both are undocumented migrants. In this short documentary, Patrick and Marites open up about the lives they have built, the fear they experience daily, and the pain of being unable to see their families - especially at Christmas. The film also features Patrick's family in Cork and Marites' family in Batangas: three continents, two families, one shared story.

    The film was pre screened in Dáil Éireann last Christmas with members of the Justice Committee and JFU coalition members.

    Huge majority support route back into system for undocumented migrants in Ireland and the US

    69% of the Irish public are in favour of giving undocumented migrants here a route back into the system, according to a new poll carried out by Red C Research on behalf of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI). Read more.

  • Young. Paperless. Powerful.

    Young, Paperless and Powerful from Migrant Rights Centre Ireland on Vimeo.

  • Justice for the Undocumented (JFU) campaign group

    MRCI has been working with undocumented migrants since it was founded in 2001. We started by supporting people who fell out of the employment permit system and successfully advocated for the introduction of a ‘bridging visa’ implemented by INIS in 2008 as the Undocumented Workers Scheme. In response to growing numbers of undocumented people accessing the Drop-In Centre, and the clear need for a comprehensive solution MRCI formed the Justice for the Undocumented Campaign group (JFU) in 2010. JFU is made up of over 1000 undocumented migrants and is growing daily. JFU is campaigning for the introduction of a Regularisation Scheme. The JFU leaders' group meets regularly and with the support of MRCI plans actions and develops campaign strategies. Great strides have been made getting a regularisation on the agenda. Keep up-to-date with campaign developments: join the MRCI supporters list and follow us on Facebook.


    Creating pathways to citizenship for undocumented individuals and families just makes sense, and that’s why multiple groups have endorsed our Regularisation proposal. Here they are:

    JFU Coalition of Endorsers April 2016

    Akidwa * Anti-Racism Network (ARN) IrelandBarnardosBeLonG ToBusiness in the CommunityCairdeChambers Ireland * Community Workers' Co-operative * Conference of Religious in Ireland (CORI) * Cork City Council * CrosscareDepaul IrelandDoras LuimníDublin City Council * EPICEuropean Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) Ireland * European Network Against Racism (ENAR) IrelandFingal County CouncilFocus Ireland * FLAC * Galway Peoples’ Resource CentreGLENImmigrant Council of IrelandIrish Congress of Trade Unions * Irish Refugee Council * Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC)Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland * Labour * Mandate * Mayo Intercultural ActionNascNational Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) * National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) * New Communities PartnershipSIPTU * Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI)Society of St Vincent de PaulSouth Dublin County Council * UNITE the Union * Young Christian Workers * Youth Work Ireland

    Should YOUR organisation be on this list? Email helen@mrci.ie to get involved!

    Regularisation Scheme

    JFU is campaigning for the introduction of a regularisation scheme. Such a scheme would give undocumented people and their families living in Ireland a window of opportunity to come forward and apply for permanent residency status. All categories of undocumented people would be eligible to apply allowing for a long-term, comprehensive, cost-effective and efficient response. The proposed regularisation would be a once-off, time-bound scheme designed around three essential criteria: length of time in the state, operation of a criminal bar, and implementation of a probationary period. Click here to read details of the proposal.

  • Jayson Montenegro, Justice for the Undocumented campaign leader

    I am Jayson Montenegro and I am member of the Justice for the Undocumented Campaign. I am 110% committed to this campaign. I have been working hard, paying taxes in Ireland for over 11 years.  I have three children to support and I want a better life for them, but living this way is a half-life.  I believe that it is important to get involved and fight for the rights of people. Taking a stand to be visible when you are undocumented can be very difficult and scary.  But I am not only doing this for me but for the thousands of people who are undocumented to give them the courage to get involved. I believe that when we stand together we can make a difference.

  • Ireland is Home: an analysis of the current situation of undocumented migrants in Ireland

    MRCI surveyed 1008 undocumented migrants living in Ireland. The respondents opened up about their work, their lives and their families. The findings demonstrate the need for the Government to introduce a regularisation scheme to address the plight of the undocumented men, women and children for whom Ireland is home.

    Ireland is Home - Policy Paper (click to download)

    Ireland is Home - Infographic (click to download)

    Key findings: of the 540 undocumented migrants surveyed,

    • 21% have been here for 10 years or more
    • 84% have been here for 5 years or more
    • 89% are working
    • 43% 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.

  • Take Action

    Join the campaign and recruit a member

    Are you undocumented? Join other undocumented people in Ireland, have your voice heard and together lets make change happen! To find out more just email helen@mrci.ie - it's completely safe and confidential. Help us build our power - tell an undocumented friend or colleague about the JFU campaign.

    Support the campaign

    You can support the JFU campaign by supporting our solution. Would your organisation like to join the growing number of organisations and community groups endorsing our regularisation proposal? Are you working with a city or county council and think a motion on regularisation could be passed? Please get in touch with helen@mrci.ie to make this happen!

    Join the JFU Leaders Group 

    Are you undocumented and interested helping to make the JFU campaign strong? Would you like to join the JFU leaders group? JFU Leaders Group includes 15 dedicated undocumented men and women who help grow our membership, strengthen our strategy, organise actions and events, outreach around Ireland. We need people with energy and commitment who care about justice and equality. Together lets make change happen! To find out when our next leaders meeting is just email helen@mrci.ie - it's completely safe and confidential.

  • RTÉ Drivetime, 1st September 2016 Della Kilroy interviews two undocumented women and MRCI Director Edel McGinley

    The Irish Times, 4th May 2016 "Immigrants are the new foreign direct investment in Ireland". Mark Fielding of Irish Small and Medium Enterprises (ISME) says such workers are invaluable.

    The Irish Times, 9th July 2015 "We’d like to pay taxes properly and we want to progress. It’s just wasted potential if people like me aren’t able to work and study."

    The Irish Times, 13th March 2014  "I don’t know where my home is now. My family is in the Philippines, but it’s 10 years since I left; I’m a foreigner there. If I leave Ireland, I’ll never be able to come back. That would break my heart."