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All-Ireland approach to immigration needed - McCann

27 June, 2014 - by Jennifer McCann

Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister Jennifer McCann has said immigration must be dealt with on an all-Ireland basis. 

Speaking after hosting a round table discussion at Stormont with asylum seekers and groups who represent their interests, the West Belfast MLA; 

"I was pleased to welcome asylum seekers and their advocates to Stormont Castle today alongside my party colleague, Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh. 

"Dealing with issues around immigration is made all the more difficult by the fact that we have two jurisdictions on this island. 

"Much of the legislation used here in the North comes from Westminster which complicated the matter even further. 

"Our MLAs are often frustrated in their efforts to lobby on behalf of constituents on immigration issues as the British Home Office will only deal with MPs. 

"The British Home Office has developed a working relationship with the Justice Department in the 26 Counties and that is to be welcomed. However, we should be able to deal with immigration on an all-Ireland basis. 

"I am also concerned about the numbers of people being returned to the south where they seem to be at a greater risk of deportation. 

"Those who are allowed to remain here often face problems as they are not allowed to work while their claim for asylum is being processed, or during an appeal if their application is unsuccessful. 

"This forces asylum seekers into poverty and a policy of destitution serves neither the individual nor wider society. 

"The Racial Equality Strategy is currently out for public consultation and we are seeking opinions on the needs of refugees and asylum seekers as part of that. 

"The consultation runs until October 10 and I would encourage people to take part."

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