U.S. immigration and customs agents have increased arrests of undocumented Irish people by 30 percent in 2017. That's according to statistics released by ICE in December. This comes after Donald Trump signed an executive order just days after his inauguration ordering an ICE crackdown on illegal immigration. Those figures indicate that 34 Irish citizens have been deported from America this year as compared with 26 in 2016.
There is 'definitely' greater enforcement from ICE in Boston
The Irish Times reports that the majority of Irish who have overstayed their visas were on vacation waivers. The executive director of the Irish International Immigrant Center in Boston, Ronnie Millar, told the newspaper, "We have had 17 Irish detained already this year. We have definitely seen in Boston greater enforcement, and we are representing a number of individuals and we are supporting them as best we can. There is a deep, deep concern about the increased activity here." While Millar added that many undocumented Irish are leaving of their own accord rather than live in fear. The center is advising people not to open their door to ICE agents unless they can produce a warrant signed by a judge.
The deportation of John Cunningham sent shock waves through the Irish community in Boston
Millar is a close friend of John Cunningham's. In July 2017, Cunningham, who first came to the U.S. in 1999 on a 90-day waiver, was deported. His case received extensive coverage in the media. Cunningham's case and the coverage it received was criticized by Latino immigration activists. Reporter Julio Varela wrote in the Latino Rebels blog that Cunningham and other white immigrants have "Irish immigrant privilege."
Varela added that undocumented Irish immigrants are portrayed as important members of the community by the media. At the time of Cunningham's arrest and deportation Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen wrote, "If John Cunningham is not safe, no one is safe." The quote was attributed to Ronnie Millar.
The Washington Post reported in August that the most affected group under Trump's immigration crackdown were those without criminal records. The Post says that, as of August, 19,700 undocumented people without criminal records had been arrested. That represents a new 100% increase over 2016.
The exact number of undocumented Irish people in the U.S. continues to be debated
A March 2017 CNN report estimated the number of undocumented Irish living and working in the U.S. at 50,000. Speaking to the network, an undocumented Irish person named Shauna, who lives in the Bronx, said, "It is easier being illegal here when you're white. It's not easy, of course, you have that paranoia but there isn't the racial element. It's a bit easier to stay under the radar."
While the exact number of undocumented Irish people in the U.S. is the subject of much debate. County Waterford representative, John Deasy, caused a stir in August 2017 when he told the Irish Times that the number of undocumented Irish in the U.S. was "closer to 10,000." Deasy is the Irish government's special envoy to the United States Congress. The same Irish Times story estimated the number of undocumented Irish as between 10,000 and 15,000, citing the Pew Research Center.