MARY McAleese has become the first Irish president in history to specifically mention the undocumented in her Christmas message which is broadcast to the Irish people.
McAleese stated, "We think with gratitude and affection of our large and proud emigrant family, scattered all over the world, among them some who are undocumented in the United States.
"For the undocumented and for their families at home, Christmas is an especially painful and lonely time. We think too of our aid workers, missionaries and diplomats along with our servicemen and women who are spending this season in tough and dangerous places in order to promote a fairer and better world. "
Her mention of the undocumented is another example of how the issue has become a major one in domestic Irish politics in recent months.
It is an important signal from the head of state in Ireland that the issue has reached to the very top of the political process at a time when the undocumented in America face a very uncertain future.
THERE was further encouraging news on that undocumented front in last Saturday's Irish Times when Foreign Minster Dermot Ahern also made it crystal clear that the issue of the undocumented was very high on the Irish government's priority list.
"I mentioned already that I place particular emphasis on the most vulnerable Irish. The plight of our undocumented Irish in the U.S. is of very special concern," Ahern wrote.
"Many emigrated prior to the emergence of the Celtic Tiger here, and before the security clampdown post-9/11. Many have built successful livelihoods and lives. But they cannot return home. If they did, they would risk losing all they have built up there.
"I have worked continuously to assist our people caught in this impossible position. Most regrettably, the political climate for reform has changed for the worse and a succession of liberalizing measures have been defeated in Congress.
"This will not dissuade me from continuing to work with our friends in Congress to solve the issue of our undocumented and to improve the migration flows between our countries. I will be guided by the advice of those Irish American politicians who have been so helpful in the past, and remain hopeful, but we need to have patience in progressively tackling this challenging problem."