Press Centre

Crosscare’s Emigrant Advice and MRCI call for protection of undocumented workers in US and Ireland

PRESS RELEASE: 13 April 2007

Crosscare’s[1] Emigrant Advice and Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) have pledged their support to the cause of regularisation of undocumented Irish in the US before a public meeting to be held by the US based Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform in Dublin tomorrow. Emigrant Advice, one of the projects of Crosscare, has assisted Irish emigrants for decades and was a first port of call for many Irish emigrants in the 80s and early 90s before they left for the States. In the last decade Ireland has become a country of net immigration and along with the MRCI, Emigrant Advice now also works with new immigrant communities in Ireland.

Joe O’Brien Information & Outreach Officer with Emigrant Advice states that ‘it may be difficult to remember now but in the 80s and early 90s people had little option but to risk emigration to the States as options here were very limited…’ He goes on to outline the contradictory nature of government response to the issue undocumented immigrants. ‘The Government rightly supports calls for regularization of Irish undocumented in the US but does not seem to recognise the need for MRCI’s very reasonable request for the establishment of a temporary ‘Bridging Visa’ for immigrants in Ireland who have become undocumented through no fault of their own. Uncertainty, vulnerability and lack of security for themselves and their families are characteristics of undocumented workers in both Ireland and the USA.’

The MRCI is calling for the Department of Justice Equality and Law Reform to provide a temporary (six month) residency stamp for non-EU nationals who have entered Ireland lawfully but have become undocumented through no fault of their own. This temporary residency stamp is called a Bridging Visa. Jacqueline Healy, Acting Director with MRCI called on the Department to use the forthcoming Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill as an opportunity to provide for this mechanism. “At the moment if an undocumented migrant worker comes to the attention of immigration the only formal response is to issue deportation proceedings. Undocumented workers are among the most vulnerable and exploited workers in Ireland.  A Bridging Visa would allow these workers to come forward and report any exploitation or abuse, talk to the relevant authorities and provides an opportunity for individuals to get back into the system and on course to living and contributing to Irish society.”

[1] Crosscare is the Social Care Agency of the Dublin Diocese