The plight of the Irish undocumented in New York and throughout the U.S. was the focus of a well-attended meeting of Irish politicians at Irish government building Leinster House in Dublin last week.
Addressing the meeting, Joe McManus, president of the United Irish Counties Association of New York, made an impassioned plea for the Irish government’s assistance, stating there was “ample evidence of a new wave of young Irish arriving in the U.S.”
“Many of these will face even more complex challenges than their counterparts in previous decades,” McManus told the meeting, which was organized by the Sinn Fein Dail (Irish Parliament) leader Caoimhghin O Caolain.
Public sentiment toward the undocumented had hardened in many quarters, McManus said, but that was not sufficient reason to abandon the effort to assist them.
“All immigrants, regardless of their country of origin, have felt some of the negative effects of the anti-immigrant sentiment since 9/11,” McManus told the meeting. “However, this has not been the effect of new laws, but rather an increase in enforcement of existing laws from 1996, the last time there was a comprehensive change in immigration legislation.”
McManus urged the Irish politicians to work to alleviate hardships for those currently in undocumented in the U.S., and to prevent another swell of undocumented.
“Realize, by doing so, you are not butting into another country’s internal affairs. You are simply asking for our young to experience and benefit from the open traditions of a country that Irish nationals helped build from revolutionary times to the present,” McManus said.
“In light of the contribution that Irish men and women have made to the United States, in public and military service down through the years, we are not asking for much in return.”
It was agreed at the meeting to re-constitute the all-party lobby group on behalf of the undocumented Irish in the U.S.