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US Bishops Conference offers hope for undocumented Irish

23 June, 2009

Sinn Féin Newry and Mourne Councillor Pat McGinn has welcomed a call from bishops at the American Catholic Bishops Conference for US President Obama and Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform before the end of 2009.

The Sinn Fein Councillor said the call would be welcomed by everyone involved in the campaign to gain citizenship for undocumented workers living and working in the United States.

Cllr McGinn, who has had a lengthy involvement with highlighting issues relating to the plight of the ‘undocumented Irish’, said:

“The issue affects many hundreds of families from throughout the Newry and Armagh area, and indeed from across Ireland.”

Acknowledging the work of both the American and Irish Catholic Bishops Conference in funding projects which work with many Irish living in the US, the Councillor said that there was good reason to hope for a new initiative on US immigration by the Obama administration.

Cardinal Francis George speaking at the Bishops Conference said:

"It has been clear for years that the United States immigration system requires repair and that reform legislation should not be delayed. We urge respect and observance of all just laws, and we do not approve or encourage the illegal entry of anyone into our country. From a humanitarian perspective, however, our fellow human beings, who migrate to support their families, continue to suffer at the hands of immigration policies that separate them from family members.

“Now is the time to address this pressing humanitarian issue, which affects so many lives and undermines basic human dignity. As a moral matter, we must resolve the legal status of those who are here without proper documentation so that they can fully contribute their talents to our nation's economic, social and spiritual well-being. We urge President Obama and congressional leaders to meet as soon as possible to discuss and draft comprehensive immigration reform legislation, with the goal of making it law by the end of 2009.”

President Obama speaking at the Esperanza National Hispanic Breakfast in Washington also promised a complete overhaul of the immigration system. He said that America was a country of promise, and no matter the colour, creed or belief, the United States was a place where anyone could fulfil their potential”.

President Obama said:

“We also know that keeping this promise means upholding America's tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. Those things aren't contradictory; they're complementary. That's why I'm committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform as President of the United States.” ENDS

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