Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin supports US immigration reform Bill and calls for similar measures here

6 October, 2005


Speaking during the debate on the all-party Motion relating to the US Immigration Bill being proposed to regularise the status of undocumented workers and immigrants living in the US, Sinn Féin spokesperson on International Affairs, Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, said he supported the US Bill on immigration reform. He said, "This measure, if passed, could have positive and life-changing consequences" for thousands of undocumented Irish workers living in the United States. He went on to call on the government to introduce a similar system for regularising undocumented migrants here, saying, "Members of the Oireachtas should not promote the introduction of an immigration policy in another jurisdiction that they would not be prepared to introduce here themselves."

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "On behalf of Sinn Fein I would like to lend my support to the Kennedy/McCain Bill on immigration reform. This measure, if passed, could have positive and life-changing consequences for undocumented workers living in the United States, hundreds if not thousands of whom are Irish. Three weeks ago my colleague Deputy Sean Crowe expressed our support for the reform Bill directly to the two Senators, along with the rest of the all-party delegation, in Capitol Hill, Washington.

"The situation of the undocumented Irish living in the US has been a continuous major concern for Sinn Féin. Our concern centres around the vulnerability of this isolated group of Irish citizens. In particular we lament the effective exile of this group from Ireland and from their families here. This exile results from the very real fear that if they return here for a visit, a holiday, a wedding or a funeral they will be unable to re-enter the United States where they've built a life for themselves -- albeit an uncertain life. It is also likely that this intolerable situation contributes to substance misuse, suicide and depression in this group.

"If the Kennedy/McCain Bill is passed it will resolve much of this situation. And it is right and proper that we promote such a move together.

"However, I would also like to use this rare opportunity of Oireachtas enlightened consensus and goodwill around a positive immigration reform to push for a similar measure here. Members of the Oireachtas should not promote the introduction of an immigration policy in another jurisdiction that they would not be prepared to introduce here themselves.

"Just as we have expressed empathy en masse with the undocumented Irish in the US let us now do the same in relation to undocumented workers here in Ireland. Sinn Fein calls on this government to introduce a system for regularising undocumented migrants here. This system should, in line with recommendations of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, prioritise the human rights of such migrants and recognise that the vast majority are involuntary migrants desperately seeking work -- as so many Irish have done abroad before them.

"This type of immigration policy reform is vitally necessary to bring an end to the exploitation of this group by some unscrupulous employers in this state and to meet the legitimate needs and right of migrants to maintain real contact with their respective families at home. Failure to introduce such reforms here would be nothing short of hypocrisy.

"Again I welcome the opportunity to support the Kennedy/McCain Bill which has real potential to resolve the current insupportable situation of many Irish in the USA." ENDS

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