Press Centre

1 in 5 Undocumented Migrants Living in Ireland for Over 10 Years – New Research

MEDIA RELEASE: Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI)

A groundbreaking new survey of undocumented migrants in Ireland has revealed that 1 in 5 undocumented people have lived in Ireland for over 10 years, and the vast majority have been here for more than five years. The research was conducted by Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) along with undocumented migrants from MRCI’s Justice for the Undocumented campaign group.

“This research is the first of its kind in Ireland,” said MRCI’s Helen Lowry. “540 undocumented migrants responded to the survey, opening up about their jobs, their families and their lives in Ireland. We now have a picture of the undocumented population in Ireland. The vast majority are working – in restaurants, as cleaners, as carers and childminders – and a huge percentage have young children either here or in their country of origin.”

The research will be launched by John Douglas, president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, at 10.30am on Wednesday 26th November 2014.

Abdullah is undocumented and runs a restaurant in Ireland. He has lived here for 8 years. “This research shows that most undocumented people are like me: young, hard-working, educated and committed to Ireland both financially and emotionally. I am the same as an undocumented Irish person in the US, unable to travel back to see my family. Last year my father passed away; it was so hard for me not being there. All we’re asking for is a chance to come forward and regularise our situations – to be able to visit our families, to move on with our lives and to stop constantly looking over our shoulders.”

The research also estimates that there are between 20,000 and 26,000 undocumented migrants in Ireland at the moment - including thousands of children.

Ms Lowry continued, “What this research shows is that many undocumented people are now long-term residents of Ireland. Given that one third of those surveyed have children living in Ireland, the Government simply cannot continue to ignore this population and hope they will all just leave. Undocumented migrants are part of our communities, they have put down roots, made Ireland their home – and for many of these children, Ireland is the only home they have known.”

Ms Lowry concluded, “We welcome the move by President Obama to regularise significant numbers of undocumented migrants, including the Irish. It is this type of common-sense approach that is needed in Ireland to address this situation.”

Key findings: of the 540 undocumented migrants surveyed,

- 81% have been here for 5 years or more

- 21% have been here for 10 years or more

- 87% are working

- 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



Aoife Murphy, MRCI Communications 086 368 7901


Undocumented migrants are available for interview – please contact Aoife for details.

‘Ireland is Home’ survey infographic:

‘Ireland is Home’ policy paper:

The research will be launched in Buswells Hotel on Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 at 10.30am tomorrow (Wednesday 26th November).

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) has worked with undocumented migrants in Ireland since its founding in 2001. MRCI provides advice, support and information to migrants through its Dublin city centre drop-in service and a national helpline, and campaigns with migrants and their families for a more equal society. For more on MRCI’s Justice for the Undocumented campaign, please see