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Obama ‘Pathway to Citizenship’ speech gives cause for cautious optimism for undocumented Irish

19 August, 2009

Sinn Féin Newry Councillor Pat McGinn, who is a campaigner for immigration rights for ‘undocumented’ Irish immigrants living in America, has said that a recent speech given by US President Barrack Obama is cause for cautious optimism.

Cllr McGinn said:

“I share the cautious optimism of many at the recent statement made by US President Obama, to an audience in Mexico, that he would provide ‘a pathway to citizenship’ for illegal immigrants.

“Since Barrack Obama’s speech, I have spoken to quite a few undocumented Irish living in America and their families living locally in the Newry and Armagh areas and there is an anticipation that before the year is out there will be draft legislation ready to be moved forward.”

The Newry and Mourne Sinn Féin Councillor has had a lengthy involvement in highlighting the plight of approximately 50,000 undocumented Irish, many from his local area, and has visited the USA where he has met senior elected representatives and officials working within Irish grassroots organisations such as the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR), who since 2005 have spearheaded the campaign to provide an Irish voice in the national immigration debate.

Cllr McGinn added:

“We are all working together to achieve the objective of obtaining a path to legal status for the undocumented Irish in the US, and a path to legal status for future Irish immigrants. I would encourage anyone with concerns to seek professional legal advice in the US.”

Cllr McGinn also said that while accurate numbers were difficult to establish that Irish immigration centres in the US had indicated that the number of Irish immigrants has been steadily rising amid the downturn in the economy here at home.

In conclusion the Newry and Mourne Councillor appealed for a unified approach in the pursuit of immigration reform for the Undocumented.

He said:

“This is an issue that impacts on families from all traditions and backgrounds. We need to continue to highlight the plight of the Undocumented, and work to securing legal status for them. We also have to ensure now more than ever that future Irish immigrants to the USA will not have to live with the label of ‘illegal’ and consequences involved with that status.” ENDS

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