The staff of the Irish Pastoral Centre, Boston had the opportunity to meet with Minister Phil Hogan, TD during his recent visit to Boston. The Minister assured the staff that the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs have prioritized the situation of undocumented immigrants in the US during their meetings in Washington DC last week. The signs from Washington DC are encouraging for the first time in many years. Once legislation is announced it will be very important to make calls to Congress in support of positive legislation to ensure that the 50,000 undocumented Irish immigrants who are living in the US, many for more than 10 years, will have an opportunity to come forward and apply for visas to legalize their status.
The IPC staff was also very encouraged by the Minister’s interest in the IPC’s programs. Assistance with finding housing and employment is provided by the IPC as well as legal help to negotiate the difficult process of applying for a legal status or citizenship. Fr. John McCarthy highlighted the plight of undocumented immigrants who are detained by ICE for minor violations like a broken tail light or failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. He spoke of the trauma these young immigrants experience in local jails that are often overcrowded.
The IPC’s senior program was also discussed; the seniors who participate receive a range of services including home and hospital visits, cultural and educational events and assistance when needed. The IPC board chair expressed sincere thanks to Minister Hogan and to Consul General Michael Lonergan for the continued financial support of the Irish Government.
Fr. John McCarthy took the opportunity to pay tribute to Irish Consular staff for their continued help in the area of assistance to our Irish prisoners and immigrant detainees currently incarcerated in US prisons.