A new group has been established in Ireland to campaign on behalf of the undocumented Irish in America.
The group, called The Families of the Undocumented Irish in America, will be chaired by Bundoran man Michael McMahon.
Speaking after the launch, Mr McMahon said:
“For far too long, successive Irish governments have sat on their hands and failed to support their citizens living in America.
“The current American administration has exhausted all avenues to introduce comprehensive immigration reform at this stage, but I am hopeful that the issue will resurface during and after the coming Presidential election campaign.
“However, there exists a mechanism for the Irish government to involve itself in resolving the plight of the undocumented Irish in America through a visa waiver scheme, which remove the three and ten year unlawful presence bars for undocumented citizens
“Thousands of families across Ireland have been failed by this current government.
“Mexico received 58,000 of these waivers in 2011 alone according to the New York Times, all because the Mexican government pursued it with the American administration. Other countries like Israel, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Australia already participate in this waiver scheme.
“Despite knowing about the existence of this visa waiver scheme for over four years, which could have been the solution for a significant number of our undocumented citizens in America, the Irish government has failed to seek this option for our people.
“We believe that he Irish government should immediately explore the potential for the introduction of a visa waiver scheme for undocumented Irish citizens living in America.
“In March of this year, a briefing was held in Dublin for TDs, Senators and MLAs and a clear call was made of the Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan TD to raise this issue with the American Embassy in Dublin.
“The Irish government just needs to go to the US Embassy in Dublin and formally ask for the visa waivers to be granted to eligible Irish citizens.
“I am calling for them to do that as a matter of priority and The Families of the Undocumented Irish in America will continue to put pressure on them until they do.
“We will be holding a series of meetings across the island of Ireland in the coming weeks. I would encourage people interested in joining our campaign or lending us a hand to get in contact by email on [email protected] or find us on Twitter @IRLUndocumented.”