President Michael D. Higgins heard first hand from Irish undocumented how difficult life in the US is for them.
Higgins is on a four day visit to the American Midwest and is spending time in Chicago.
He met an undocumented Irish couple Sandra and Neil parents of two young children at a local Irish Center according to the Irish Times.
The couple discussed their plight. “If we could just get a pass to go home to see our parents,” said Neil.
Sandra’s nephew was killed in a car crash in 2010 but she could not go home. “I was the only one from my family who wasn’t at the funeral – it was heart-breaking,” she said.
“It was the worst week I have experienced since we came here,” added Neil.
Sandra said: “The only option is to get a divorce and marry an American.”
Higgins paid tribute to Irish community groups for “providing shelter” to the undocumented who are “living in the shadows.”
He also met Illinois governor Pat Quinn and they agreed that the law needed to be changed to “enable people who are already paying taxes to come into full participation [in American society].”
Higgins expressed confidence in the laws being changed saying he had “a very definite impression” politicians “won’t be able to ignore the immigration issue, “The traction on the ground for support seems to be looking in better shape than it has been in some time.”
Here President Michael D. Higgins's speaks at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs: