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“My mother is still in hospital and not getting any younger, and therefore it’s really important to go home and spend time with her when we can all enjoy each other’s company,” said Tara sadly.
The recession in Ireland may be preventing many undocumented from moving back to Ireland, but
Tara said it isn’t all smooth sailing here either.
“Since the recession here too times have been harder. It’s harder to get a job and every day just seems more of a challenge,” she said.
Eibhlis, 39, and Martin, 35, have been living in the shadows in New York for more than a decade.
Eibhlis, from Cork, has been here for 15 years and her husband from Northern Ireland for 12. They have two children who have never met many of their family members back home.
“Being away from home for Christmas is very sad and lonely for us. We wish our kids could meet and spend time with our families back home,” said Eibhlis, a stay at home mom.
The most difficult part, said Eibhlis, is when the kids ask her why they can’t go back to Ireland.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s our decision to be here but sometimes it feels like we’re in prison,” added the mom.
Martin, a construction worker, said that although “no one is making us stay” it’s the best place for their children right now despite missing out on so many family events.
“We pray this Christmas that someday these politicians will do something for the millions of immigrants that love this country so much and give back to the economy every day,” said Martin.
“We are willing sometimes to sacrifice our own happiness to stay in the country that we have grown to love.”
Similar to Tara, Eibhlis recently got a sad call from home.
“It’s very hard hearing about someone in your family dying and you can’t be there,” said Eibhlis.
“The guilt just eats you up.”
Eibhlis and Martin will make the most of Christmas in New York. They will make a big deal of Santa for their children and do their best to disguise their sadness on December 25.
Peter, 26, is single and dreads the Christmas celebrations. “I’ve been living in New York for the past six years illegally,” Peter told the Irish Voice.
A bartender by trade, Peter will work through the holidays to get him through it.
“I’d prefer to be behind the bar than sitting at home alone thinking about all my sisters, brothers and parents chilling out at our family home,” said Peter, who hails from Co. Galway.
This year is extra difficult for Peter because his first niece was born last week.
“Being honest, I thought about chancing going home but it isn’t worth it in the long run if I get stopped coming back because there is no work at all in Ireland,” he said.
“There are so many lads I know out here who have nowhere to go this Christmas than the bar.
They have plenty of money but it doesn’t matter a bit without having people you care about around the place.”
Last year Peter’s friend at home took his own life at Christmas because he lost his job, and the Galway man fears the same sort of feelings exist here in New York.
“I’m always saying to some of my buddies to talk it out because Christmas is a very lonely time here as an immigrant,” he said.
“My advice to anyone is to meet up with friends this Christmas Day and don’t spend it alone, or come to visit me at the bar,” he says smiling.
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