Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has been calling American politicians hoping to put the pressure on to create a deal in the US for illegal Irish immigrants.
TheJournal.ie reports that Gilmore is aiming to use upcoming St. Patrick’s Day to his advantage in his appeal for an immigration deal. With TDs travelling to the US in honor of the holiday, Gilmore is hoping for meetings with policy makers and lobby groups.
“I am currently engaged in a round of telephone discussions with key US Senators to discuss prospects for progress and to underline our ongoing interest in the issue,” said Gilmore.
The Tanaiste also reportedly raised the immigration issue with former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton while she was visiting Ireland in December.
While the exact figure is not known, TheJournal.ie reports that there could be as many as 50,000 undocumented Irish workers in the United States currently, making up just a fraction of the estimated 11 million undocumented. With no visas, they cannot hold documentation and would not be able to return to the US should they leave.
President Obama made it clear that immigration reform would be a priority for his second term in office during his inauguration speech last month. Reform would entail creating a comprehensive way for illegals to make themselves legal in the US.
Senator John McCain, who ran for president in 2008, is meeting with President Obama this week as part of a bipartisan panel focused on immigration reform. The Senator said that he is “guardedly optimistic” there could be a deal as early as late March.
Responding to a question in the Dáil, Eamon Gilmore said undocumented Irish workers will be a “critical element of the Government’s engagement with the US authorities, including over the forthcoming St Patrick’s Day period.
“My program and that of other members of the Government during that period… will include discussions with key political figures on immigration and with the Irish community groups that provide assistance to the undocumented.”