Ireland’s first female ambassador to the U.S., Anne Anderson, has made the plight of the undocumented Irish and a future immigration flow from Ireland her top priorities since assuming her position in September, and the influential website BuzzFeed has taken notice.
Anderson and her outreach to House Republicans were featured in a BuzzFeed piece during the week, and she stressed that the Irish government is deeply committed to moving the comprehensive immigration reform drive forward.
“For many [Republicans], they have been surprised. They think of this as a Hispanic issue, which is not surprising given the numbers,” Anderson told BuzzFeed.
“There is increasingly a deeper understanding of the complexities of this issue, and that it’s not just one community.”
Anderson, who was previously Ireland’s ambassador to the United Nations, has worked very closely with Irish organizations throughout the U.S. to lobby for immigration reform. She told BuzzFeed that Ireland’s interests in the issue need to be considered to account for “the historical and contemporary relationship” between the U.S. and her country.
Anderson noted that while Ireland’s undocumented population in the U.S. hovers between 50,000-75,000 – a small portion of the millions from other nations – the impact on a nation of Ireland’s size is huge.
She also noted that Irish citizens seeking legal access to the U.S. have a difficult if not impossible task.
“The other side of the coin is the extreme difficulty for Irish people to come work here … [which] has fueled the undocumented problem,” Anderson said, adding that “the extent to which the Irish have improved this country … and helped to build this country, that’s just a tiny, tiny, tiny percentage.”
The lack of legal access is promoting Ireland’s best and brightest to look elsewhere, Anderson added.
“They’re the kind of people who can make a contribution. Now they’re going other places,” she said.