Family has no choice but to leave Ireland
Irish family explains why they'll stay illegally in the United States
With no jobs, piling debt and no prospects in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, one Irish family made the painful choice to leave their home behind and start anew in New York, even though they will live here undocumented. They are pleased with how the move has gone thus far, they tell April Drew.
Recession-hit Ireland has forced a mother and father and their two children to pack their lives into four suitcases, bid adieu to family and move 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean for a life that promises hope and prosperity – even though they will soon lapse into an undocumented status.
Paul and Rachel (not their real names) were, like thousands of other Irish families, suffering the effects of the severe economic downturn in Ireland.
They were about to lose their home. The family business had gone into bankruptcy. Finding the money to pay outstanding bills was becoming a nightmare, and putting food on the table was a constant struggle.
“What choice did we have really?” Paul, 31, said to the Irish Voice over a cup of Barry’s Tea last week.
“A life in New York can give us back what we lost in Ireland and help us back on our feet,” said Rachel, 30, taking a sip of her tea.
Two months ago Rachel, Paul and their two boys arrived in the Big Apple, not knowing many people, but full of hope and optimism.
They were determined to leave the physical and emotional effects of the Irish recession behind them and start fresh.
A new life in a new country -- a country they visited in the past and felt a connection to -- is what they have set out to achieve, and so far it has been a success.
Rewind three years. Paul had a successful plumbing business with seven staff at his disposal. His business was thriving -- so busy, in fact, that he had to refuse jobs because he didn’t have the time to complete them.
Rachel could afford to stay at home and look after their now 11-year-old and 18-month-old sons. They had two cars, nice clothes and a great social life. They wanted for nothing.
“Things were great for a while,” remembers Paul. “But everything went downhill very fast.”
The past 12 months saw a dramatic change in their lifestyle.
“It was really a knock-on effect. People weren’t getting paid so I wasn’t getting paid. I was owed a lot of money, and in reality I couldn’t keep going so I lost the business,” Paul admitted before stepping out to tend to their youngest son.
Paul, the proud breadwinner, had to do what he never envisioned doing. He had to draw Irish unemployment payments, which meant relying on the Irish government to put food on the table for his family.
“I had to go on the dole in the finish up. We couldn’t afford a week’s shopping and we were heading down the road of the house being taken off us because we couldn’t afford the mortgage,” he said upon returning to the kitchen table.
Realizing they had hit rock bottom, Paul and Rachel sat down to discuss their options.
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