Press Centre

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).

Red C asked participants to respond to the statement “Undocumented people in Ireland should be granted the opportunity to earn the right to live and work in the country.” 69% agreed, with just 18% disagreeing and the remainder answering Neither or Don’t Know. When asked specifically about undocumented children in Ireland, the percentage in favour rose to a massive 79%, and unsurprisingly a large majority (84%) also supported a regularisation option for undocumented Irish migrants in the US.

Spokesperson for the MRCI Helen Lowry said, “On this issue, the Irish people are ahead of politics – for the vast majority of the public, this is a no-brainer. A comprehensive regularisation proposal has been sent to the Department of Justice, and the Irish people have given it their stamp of approval, confirming their support for undocumented migrants. What’s more, most people recognise that giving undocumented people in Ireland this chance would strengthen the Irish government’s representations on behalf of the undocumented Irish in the US.”

Explaining the MRCI’s proposed solution to the issue, Ms Lowry stated, “Regularisation is a pragmatic, straightforward and transparent way to address this issue. We propose a regularisation scheme with clear criteria which would allow people to come forward and regularise their status. This is about recognising reality; it’s not going to go away. The public has given the Government a mandate to act now and introduce a regularisation. The time is now.”

Jayson Montenegro, an undocumented migrant who has lived and worked in Ireland since 2003 welcomed the poll results. “We are just ordinary people, living and working in ordinary Irish communities. We share the same struggles as the Irish undocumented in the US, and this poll shows that Irish people understand those struggles on both sides of the Atlantic. Just like the undocumented Irish in the US, all we want is a fair chance to come forward and get back into the system. I am deeply grateful that the Irish people feel we should be given that opportunity.”

The MRCI has made the poll findings available to the Justice Committee in advance of their last meeting before the summer recess.


Aoife Murphy, MRCI Communications 01 5241454


Poll breakdown:

The poll ‘Immigrant Rights and Public Attitudes’ was conducted by Red C Research on behalf of the MRCI. The poll was carried out from June 22nd – 24th with a representative sample of 1,007 people.

  • 69% of the Irish population supports a regularisation option for undocumented migrants in Ireland
  • The figure rises to 79% when talking about undocumented children.
  • Furthermore, 68% of the population believe that implementing a regularisation will strengthen the Government’s position in terms of lobbying for a regularisation of undocumented Irish in the USA –
  • On the question of whether undocumented migrants in the US should have the chance to earn the right to live and work there, 84% of those polled agreed that they should.
  • Agreement on the above points is shared across gender, age group, geographic location and membership of social class.

Profile of undocumented migrants in Ireland:

Groundbreaking research carried out by the MRCI in November 2014 with 540 undocumented migrants showed that

  • 81% are here for over 5 years
  • 1 in 5 are here for over 10 years
  • 87% are working
  • Top 5 nationalities: Filipino, Chinese, Mauritian, Brazilian and Pakistani
  • 5% entered the country legally and subsequently became undocumented

The MRCI estimates there are between 20,000 and 26,000 undocumented people in Ireland, including thousands of children.

Jayson Montenegro is a leader of the MRCI’s Justice for the Undocumented campaign and spoke about his life and family before the Oireachtas Justice Committee in March of this year:

Last week, the MRCI’s Young, Paperless and Powerful group, made up of young undocumented people aged 14-21, released a short film about their lives here: