The undocumented Irish are not likely to be cheering the election of Donald Trump to the White House.
But despite the views expressed by Mr. Trump during the campaign, it is far from certain that the new president will, or indeed can, press ahead with his vow to deport millions of illegal and undocumented immigrants, thousands of Irish among them.
The prospect of President Trump certainly wasn’t a deterrent to Taoiseach Enda Kenny in an immigration context.
As part of his statement in response to Mr. Trump’s win, Mr. Kenny said: "I also intend to work closely with the new administration and newly elected United States Congress to pursue comprehensive immigration reform, an issue that is so important to tens of thousands of Irish people who are making a major contribution to America."
That might be easier said than done.
But will Mr. Kenny, and indeed other world leaders, be able to make a pitch for certain nationalities to be treated with a degree of restraint by the incoming Trump administration and GOP Congress?
Hard to say.
And for sure any attempt to secure favored status would be pilloried by U.S.-based reform advocates.
But where there is some possible room for maneuver between campaign rhetoric and actual action can be discerned in the Republican Party Platform, which went to press after the Republican Convention in Cleveland.
While the Democratic platform statement on immigration was a dream wish list for the undocumented of all nationalities, not least the Irish, the Republican version made for sober reading by comparison.
At the same time, however, the GOP platform was a little more accommodating than might have been expected given the campaign trail rhetoric.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, though party platforms are not binding on legislators or the executive branch, they do offer a clear picture of the issues animating the parties’ most vocal constituencies and often represent a roadmap for future legislative agendas.
According to the MPI, the Republican platform, not surprisingly, contained two central themes embraced by Donald Trump since he made immigration a centerpiece of his campaign: building a wall on the southern border and screening immigrants from certain countries or with certain religious affiliations.
This year’s platform, said the Institute in an online posting, calls for walling off the entire 2,000-mile border, in contrast to the 2012 version, which advocated finishing the double-layered fencing mandated along certain sections of the border under the Secure Fence Act of 2006.
“While the platform mirrors the Trump vow to build a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border, the document attempts to take a more nuanced and practical stance than the candidate’s recommended ban on admission of all Muslims or all individuals from regions with proven histories of terrorism.”
Instead, the platform advocates “special scrutiny” for foreign nationals seeking admission from terror-sponsoring countries or “regions associated with Islamic terrorism.”
The platform also calls for renewal of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), a post-9/11 program under which males from 25 predominantly Muslim countries were required to register and be fingerprinted and photographed upon entry to the United States or while within the country. NSEERS was suspended in April 2011.
The Institute posting added: “In a major departure from one of Trump’s primary themes, and in a concession to the standard party position, the platform is silent on enforcement measures against the estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants—refraining from taking a stance on the candidate’s call for mass deportations.”
It is this “departure” that might give Mr. Kenny, and other overseas leaders, a possible opening.
In speaking up for the undocumented Irish, Mr. Kenny will for sure get a sympathetic hearing from congressional Democrats.
The question then is how many Republicans might also bend an ear.
And, of course, the biggest question of all is how President Trump will respond to any plea on behalf of individuals and families who have been living in the shadows, some of them not just for years, but for decades.
This article first appeared in the Irish Echo. For more stories, visit their website here.