Press Centre

New Immigration Bill has Serious Flaws

PRESS RELEASE: 29 January 2008

Changes Needed to Ensure Fairness and Due Process

“The Immigration Residence and Protection Bill introduced today by Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan has serious flaws,” said the Director of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, Siobhán O’Donoghue. “In Ireland we value fairness, transparency and due process. The Immigration Bill in its current form seriously lacks these basic principles and major changes in the Bill are needed to get this right now in order to meet everyone’s interests.”

Ms. O’Donoghue continued, “For example, I think the Irish public would be shocked to learn the unchecked powers and discretion the Bill gives the Minister and the Gardaí.  We know from our history the dangers of giving too much power or discretion to any one person or group.  According to the Bill the Minister has the power to summarily deport a person from Ireland without any right to appeal and that is shocking.”

“The Bill must include the establishment of an independent appeals body for all immigration and asylum-related applications.  We know that mistakes can happen.  For example a victim of trafficking or exploitation could be deported in error. I don’t think that is the legacy Ireland wishes to foster.”

“Something else that the Irish value and honour deeply is the family.  The family is the cornerstone of Irish life.  Those who come to live, work and pay taxes in Ireland deserve the same right to live a normal and dignified life by having their families with them.  Keeping families separated benefits no-one.   What is gained by keeping a man from Bangladesh who has been living and working in Ireland for the past four years separated from his wife and daughter, whom he has only seen in pictures?   By not providing a clear right to family reunion we are creating division, isolation and unnecessary suffering.   If we are serious about integration then we need to start by welcoming families and removing the barriers to family reunion.”

“The Bill also lacks adequate protections for the most vulnerable, such as those who have become undocumented through workplace exploitation and those who are victims of trafficking.  For example people who are trafficked and exploited deserve at a minimum a six month permission to remain to get themselves sorted and back into the system.”

“The thinking behind this bill was to set out fair and transparent rules and procedures around all aspects of immigration law. This Bill fails to do that.”