Irish ambassador Anne Anderson has lauded President Obama’s action on immigration reform.
"We know the stories of hardship," said the ambassador, who has advocated for comprehensive immigration changes for the Irish-American community. "It's so difficult in human terms... Do you go back and see a parent for the last time and risk losing the life you have in America?"
In an interview with USA Today, Anderson estimated that there are 50,000 undocumented Irish citizens living in the U.S, and says it has become increasingly more difficult for Irish citizens to gain legal access.
Anderson says the Irish government has "been availing ourselves of every opportunity to talk to Congress on both sides of the aisle" in pursuit of comprehensive immigration reform.
President Obama mentioned the Irish when he spoke about his executive action on immigration at a Las Vegas high school last week.
"I'm from Chicago. And we've got some Irish immigrants whose papers aren't in order,” he said. “This is not just a Latino issue. This is an American issue."
In a letter to Obama on Thanksgiving Day, Irish prime minister Enda Kenny wrote: "We have spoken about the tremendous human cost for our undocumented community arising from the inability to travel back to Ireland. I have shared with you some of the heartbreaking stories – parents dying without seeing their children, funerals unattended, family milestones missed."
Anderson said that Ireland’s own wave of immigration from elsewhere in the European Union has invigorated the country’s economy and cities.
"It has unquestionably been positive for Ireland," she said. "There are difficulties, issues that need to be managed, but no question we have benefited."
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore