Another lonely Christmas for illegal Irish trapped in the United States
Undocumented forced to be separated from family for the holidays
Thousands of Irish undocumented living in New York face another lonely Christmas without family.
As they prepare to make the most of Christmas in New York, several undocumented living in Yonkers and Woodlawn in the Bronx spoke to the Irish Voice about the sadness associated with being away from family this time of the year.
Because all those interviewed are undocumented, names have been changed for the purpose of this article.
Louise, 38, and her 40-year-old husband Shane are about to spend their eighth Christmas away from their family back in Co. Donegal.
“Another Christmas away is just terrible,” Louise, a bartender, shared with the Irish Voice over the weekend.
“It’s getting harder all the time. Our parents are getting old and we’re missing so many special events like another Christmas, not to mention several weddings and christenings.”
Her husband Shane agrees, but says being realistic they can’t move home at the moment because “there is no work” in Ireland.
“The Irish government is doing a good job of keeping the young people out of Ireland,” said Shane, a construction worker.
Veronica, 30, and her husband of three years Martin, 31, are both from Co. Kerry. They have two American-born children. They are also about to spend their eighth Christmas in New York.
“We haven’t been home in eight years and it’s very hard being away from family all the time but especially at Christmas, and of course it’s very hard for them not having us at home either,” shared Veronica, who cares for the elderly.
“Christmas is all about family, everyone meeting and spending time together.”
Martin, who owns his own construction firm, said, “We’ll never get back the years we have missed with family, but hope to be home some day. Our kids have never seen Ireland so we can’t wait for the day to bring them back to meet grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.”
A visitor from Ireland this Christmas will ease the pain a little, though, for this Kerry family.
“This year my mom comes for Christmas. It’s our first Christmas together in eight years so we are very excited Nana is coming to New York,” said Veronica.
Tara, 37, is from Co. Sligo. She has been living in New York for 12 years and hasn’t set foot on Irish soil in seven.
Like those previously interviewed, Tara associates Christmas with spending quality time with family.
“Christmas away from home has become an event to dread here in New York, a non-event and one that I sadly hope will be over and done with as soon as possible,” said Tara, an office worker.
This, however, is Tara’s final Christmas without family.
“I'm planning to move back to Ireland in the next year unless a miracle of a green card arrives from Santa Claus, and at this stage it’s not looking like it but I can always live in hope,” she said.
This year for Tara will be extra difficult. Her mother had major surgery only seven weeks ago and she is devastated that she can’t be there to help her recover.
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