Maeve Higgins, who first came to New York from Cork when she was 17 years old, discusses her new book "The Good Immigrant" with Soledad O'Brien

Maeve Higgins, Irish comedian, and writer has written about her experience as an undocumented immigrant in the US in the new book 'The Good Immigrant.'

Higgins spoke with Soledad O'Brien on 'Matter of Fact' about 'The Good Immigrant,' a collection of essays and stories that explore immigrants' experiences in the US.

(Higgins also has her own book out 'Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else,' as well as a podcast which both explores immigration in the US.)

Read More: Irish comedian Maeve Higgins is IrishCentral’s September Book of the Month

In her'The Good Immigrant' chapter entitled 'The Luck of the Irish,' Higgins discusses the privilege of being both white and English-speaking while undocumented in the US that she experienced.

Speaking with O'Brien, Higgins said: "Americans have always been warm and friendly to me, but then I have a different experience from a lot of immigrants I think.” 

Maeve Higgins overstayed her visa when working as a nanny in New York. But as an Irish immigrant, she says she never faced the same backlash and fear many other undocumented immigrants experience. She talks about her journey with Soledad O’Brien this weekend.

Publiée par Matter of Fact sur Vendredi 22 mars 2019

Read More: Remembering New York City’s famous Irish immigrants this St. Patrick’s Day

Higgins explained how she first came to America, and how she "stayed on," or overstayed her visa.

“I don’t mean to be blase,” says Higgins, “but I’m remembering what it was like when I was 17 and I just wasn’t scared, I think because I’m a white person and I speak English, and I felt really quite safe and quite confident."

“And I think some of that was down to teenage bravado, but the kind of debate around immigration wasn’t so vicious,” Higgins admits.

The O-1B visa is one of the most coveted visas for any immigrant looking for work in the United States. It’s granted to those with extraordinary abilities in the arts. Yet, comedienne and O-1B recipient Maeve Higgins tells Soledad O’Brien it’s not always fair to divide into categories.

Publiée par Matter of Fact sur Vendredi 22 mars 2019

Read More: I was an undocumented immigrant. Trump's hatred for them is un-American.

“It’s not a new thing; I think immigration has always been very, kind of racialized here.”

“Things were tough for Irish immigrants; they kind of scraped by and gathered a lot of power, but then when I see the ones who kind of pull the ladder up under themselves, I can’t stand that."

Higgins explains that she's now in the United States with the "Alien of extraordinary ability" visa, formally known as the O-1B visa.  O'Brien points out that First Lady Melania Trump is in the US on the same visa.

"It's a tricky one," says Higgins. "How can you put people into those categories?"

"You can't tell who's good, who's bad, when you go down that road I think it's really destructive."