An Irish politician, Senator Mark Daly has spoken out on the need for the 50,000 undocumented Irish people living in the United States to be allowed to return home for Christmas 2014.
The Fianna Fail Senator who is the party spokesperson for the Irish Overseas and Diaspora made the comment on national radio on Monday morning.
“There was a lot of hope in 2007 for immigration reform with the Kennedy McCain immigration bill and that didn’t happen.
“In 2014 the Irish lobby for Immigration reform, the Taoiseach, Tanaiste and the new Ambassador to Ireland, Ann Anderson have made huge efforts to ensure the Irish American caucus on Capitol Hill push for immigration reform.”
The senator spoke of the 50,000 undocumented Irish families scattered across Ireland and how not being allowed home at special times of the year, in particular the holiday season affects them.
“There’s 50,000 undocumented Irish in America but for each one of those there are 10 family members in Ireland affected. Their loved ones can’t be with us this Christmas and that’s around 500,000 people which are affected by this issue.”
Daly added “It’s huge all around Ireland, from Donegal to Kerry. This Christmas they only contact some will have with a loved one abroad is by skype or telephone on Christmas day.
“Hopefully next year they will be able to come to airports in Shannon, Cork and Dublin to welcome their loved ones home. In some cases the first time in decades.”
In June, a new law to give legal status to the many Irish in the US illegally was passed in the Senate by 82 votes to 15.
It seeks give legal status to people there before December 31st 2011. It would also, for the first time since 1965, open the way for up to 10,000 Irish people annually to secure a visa to legally work in the US.
The remarks by Senator Mark Daly come at a very emotional time of year for Irish families as over 600,000 people are expected to make their they way through Dublin airport over the Christmas period.
The Irish Times have special coverage of those arriving at Dublin airport. There were scenes of sheer delight and tears of happiness as people walked through arrivals.
Geraldine Enright from Tyrrelstown in Dublin hung over the barrier right next to the arrivals door, craning her head each time it slid open to see if her son Wayne, who is 27 and has been living in Sydney for two years, would be the next to emerge.
“He was on the phone there saying he’d landed but was stuck on the runway, but I can’t wait to see him come through,” she said excitedly.
“He works for a bank over there and is doing really well. He says he’ll never come back. Even though he’s just 27 he is still my baby and we miss him a lot, but when things are going so well for him over there, why wouldn’t he stay?”
Other emotional family reunions played out across Dublin airport this week with The Times reporting other tales of families reuniting.
Marguerite and Tim Guidera had arms outstretched for their 7-month-old granddaughter Emily, who arrived from Boston with her dad Patrick, his American wife Rachel, and their three-year-old Mary.
Although Emily had never met her grandparents before, she was full of smiles for them.
“We have seen her a lot on Skype,” Marguerite says, “where would we be without Skype?”
Lorna Carton (31) ran to her two sisters after spotting them in the crowd under a giant homemade “Welcome Home” banner.
Also arriving from Boston, where she has lived for 10 years, she hadn’t seen Fiona (25) since last Christmas and her other sister Elaine (28), who lives in New Zealand, in two and a half years.
“It was the best welcome I have ever gotten. It will be a big reunion this week. There’s nothing like being at home for Christmas.”
There are high hopes being set on the Irish Immigration reform for 2014, with many hoping they will be able to experience such joyous reunions at home, instead of having to read about other peoples happiness.