Reaction to President Obama’s executive order was overwhelmingly positive from Ireland and Irish American groups throughout the U.S., with many acknowledging the benefits while also vowing to continue the fight until all the Irish are legalized.
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, who visited Washington, DC in September to meet with politicians about immigration reform, said Obama’s order will provide welcome relief for some, but not all Irish.
“Today represents real progress, albeit with further important steps yet to be achieved. I’m happy that the relentless efforts of the government and our embassy and diplomatic missions in the U.S. have begun to bear fruit. They have been reflected in an outcome that should make a difference to thousands of our undocumented citizens there,” Flanagan said.
Flanagan also vowed that the Irish government would continue to lobby for the undocumented at every chance.
“The government will not become in any way complacent. Some will not benefit from these new arrangements and we will continue to make the case on their behalf … the government will continue to work to encourage further steps that will reflect the concerns and needs of the undocumented Irish as well as ensuring improved channels for legal migration between Ireland and America,” Flanagan added.
Irish Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan, a long-time campaigner for the Irish undocumented, is hopeful that the Obama executive order will help as many Irish as possible.
“Hopefully these measures will provide new hope for many [undocumented] and their families in their quest to regularize their status. There is more work to do, but the changes announced represent a good start,” Deenihan said.
The Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers, an umbrella group that represents the 11 Irish centers in the U.S., was unequivocal in its praise for Obama’s move.
"CIIC is delighted by President Obama's announcement, as we have been pushing for executive action since the failure of the Senate bill last year. The president's action will provide relief to many of the 50,000 undocumented Irish here in the U.S., but we must not forget those who will not qualify for help under this mandate,” said Celine Kennelly, president of the CIIC board.
“CIIC and its member centers support the president, and we hope that this is the first step toward a more comprehensive and bipartisan legislative bill that will provide all undocumented immigrants with a path towards citizenship."
Dan Dennehy, national immigration chairman of the AOH, called Obama’s announcement a “stepping stone.”
“We strongly feel that we can now move the remaining issues. I ask every Irish American to urge Congress to finish the job, give the Irish our visas back and put an end to 50 years of injustice to the Irish.”