Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheal Martin is urging Irish people considering moving to the U.S. without correct documentation not to do so.
Martin, who recently lost his daughter to a sudden illness, said he has visited the undocumented community in the U.S. many times and has witnessed first hand the depths of sadness experienced by those who cannot visit home.
“It is not worth it in terms of quality of life and employment," said Martin on Monday.
“Many people have returned to Ireland but have not made it back to the U.S., with the consequent chaos and dislocation brought to their lives.”
Martin was responding to opposition party Fine Gael politician Paul Connaughton who said helping the undocumented in the U.S. was difficult.
“The problems are horrendous. A woman rang me from Washington the other day and she wanted to attend her mother’s funeral in Dublin. She is undocumented in the US," said Martin.
Martin said discussions are still underway in Washington to create more flexibility on the recently made available 12-month working visa which could lead to a more permanent position in the country.
While in New York in October Martin said that after a series of meetings on Capitol Hill, the Irish government was told that as of now, the only way to solve the problems facing the estimated 50,000 undocumented in the U.S. would be through a comprehensive reform package.
The minister said that the U.S. legislators he met – among them, Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Patrick Leahy – expressed optimism that a comprehensive bill will be ready for introduction and action in the first three months of next year.
Martin also said that the government would continue to press for a bi-lateral visa deal between Ireland and the U.S. that would ensure a long-term flow of legal immigration between the two countries. However, he added that any such deal would have to come as part of comprehensive reform.
“We can’t go it alone,” Martin said with regards to a bi-lateral deal. “We have to be clear to our people that we can’t do it alone. If comprehensive doesn’t happen, we would then pursue (a bi-lateral) deal.”