Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD speaking in the Dáil on (Tuesday) on the issue of the undocumented Irish living and working in the USA has said that there “is an opportunity before the US election in November to push for immigration reform that would favour the undocumented Irish, but this requires significant work by the Government and our diplomatic representatives in the US.”
Speaking later Mr. Adams said:
“This November will see Congressional elections take place in the USA. A third of Senate seats are also up for grabs.
At one level this is arguably the worst time to persuade US politicians to adopt a more progressive position on immigration reform. It is not popular with a section of the US electorate and has in the past been used as a political football.
However the elections are also a time when US politicians are out on the doorsteps looking for votes. The Irish American community in the USA is very powerful and can swing votes.
So too can lobby groups representing citizens from other nations affected by this issue and also seeking immigration reform.
There is therefore an opportunity to raise the case for immigration reform that favours the undocumented Irish. It will require significant work by the government and by our diplomatic resources in the USA.
This is a vitally important matter for Irish citizens in the USA and for their families at home worried by their lack of legal status. It is equally important that the government establish a clear strategy for progressing this issue in the months ahead.
The Tánaiste told me at Stormont on Monday that he is travelling to the USA to deal with this issue. I welcome that.
The government must increase its engagement in the time ahead and intensify its lobbying campaign with the Obama administration and with congressional leaders.