Bundoran, Co. Donegal town mayor Michael McMahon, one of only a handful of local government representatives traveling abroad for St. Patrick’s Day, is paying his own way to New York, Boston and Philadelphia to visit the undocumented Irish there.
McMahon, spokesperson in Ireland for the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, said there were thousands of Irish undocumented in those cities who couldn’t travel home for fear they wouldn’t be allowed return to the U.S.
“They need assurance, especially around St Patrick’s Day, that their cause is being pushed as forcefully as possible,” he said.
It’s McMahon’s 15th visit in 14 years, and he intends leading the Donegal sector in the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He will also visit the Aisling Irish Community Center in the Bronx and the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens, as well as travelling to Boston and Philadelphia.
McMahon said he didn’t ask Bundoran Town Council to sponsor his visit as local authorities are low in cash in the recession.
McMahon, who will be 10 days in the U.S., has a son, 40-year-old Michael junior, who is married with three children and has lived in New York for 18 years. He visited Ireland only once, 11 years ago.
“He hasn’t come home since because he is afraid of not getting back to the US if he leaves it,” McMahon said.