Press Centre

Undocumented migrants call on Minister for Justice and the Government to introduce special Bridging Visa

PRESS RELEASE: 7 November  2007

Migrant workers who have become undocumented in Ireland through workplace exploitation, deception, or unexpected redundancy launched a public campaign today in Dublin calling on the Minister for Justice, Brian Lenihan, and the Government to take immediate action to remedy the situation.   The group has called for the introduction of a temporary 6-month permission to remain, or Bridging Visa, which would allow undocumented migrants in such situations to come forward and get back into the system.

“I became undocumented through no fault of my own, but I had to pay the price of suffering nearly three years of living in the shadows,” stated Iryna Zmyeyevska, a migrant worker from the Ukraine who became undocumented as a result of gross exploitation on a mushroom farm.  “I could not go home and see my family.  My mom was very ill and died before I could get to see her.   You do not have rights for anything at all, you can only wait and hope for a very long time.”

“There are many people that became undocumented like I was.   These people should be given a chance.  By not providing the Bridging Visa the Government and Minister Lenihan are denying justice to people who have done nothing wrong,” said Ms. Zmyeyevska.

Elizabeth, an undocumented migrant worker who spoke via recorded testimony to disguise her identity explained how she was working as a nursing home care assistant before she became undocumented.  “I began to get worried after the work permit did not arrive.  I made constant inquiries to my employer for two years and they said everything would be fine.  When my employer found out that I asked advice from the Citizen’s Information Centre, I was fired.  At that stage I had no idea what I was going to do and I am still living in limbo trying to put food on the table and help my daughter through school,” she stated.

“This is a practical and humanitarian measure, and far less extreme than the type of measures the Government is advocating for on behalf of undocumented Irish migrants in the USA. Not supporting it is blatant hypocrisy,” stated Jacqueline Healy, MRCI’s Drop-in-Center Coordinator.   “Furthermore, an opinion poll carried out by RedC in August this year indicated that three out of every four people in Ireland believe that the Government should give undocumented migrant workers the opportunity to legalise their status.