Re-opening the case of the Undocumented Irish – A Fitting Tribute to late Senator Ted Kennedy – BREEN.

October 6th, 2009 - Pat Breen

Following the recent passing of the Senator Ted Kennedy (RIP), Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has urged the Minister for Foreign Affairs Michael Martin to re-open discussions with the Obama Administration with a view to finding a resolution in the case of the undocumented Irish in the US.

“The late Senator Ted Kennedy (RIP) was a great friend of Ireland and he had strong ancestral connections with County Clare. Together with his colleagues John McCain and Bruce Morrison he led the campaign to regularise the status of thousands of undocumented Irish living throughout the United States, many of whom are from County Clare.”
“Despite agreeing a motion with Fine Gael to seek a bilateral agreement which would benefit Irish and American citizens seeking to work and travel between the two countries, there has been little progress made by the Irish Government since then.
I believe that now is an opportune time for the Irish Government to re-double their efforts and re-open discussions with the Obama Administration in an effort to find a solution to help the undocumented Irish.”

“Reaching a resolution for the undocumented Irish would be a fitting to the late Senator Ted Kennedy RIP, who was the leading proponent of immigration reform in the United States, and as a proud Irishman.”
See PQ Underneath for your information.

Question No. 74

Parliamentary Question – Dept Details

To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will re-open discussions with the Obama Administration to find a solution for the undocumented Irish in the US in view of the recent passing of a US Senator (details supplied), a leading proponent of immigration reform in the US; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen.

For ORAL answer on Wednesday, 23rd September, 2009

Ted Kennedy. such a tribute would be a fitting tribute to the late Senator

Ref No: 31692/09 Lottery: 76 Proof: 68

Resubmitted from (DFA) 17/09/2009 — White No 9 — Old Proof No. 68

REPLY
Minister of State, Dick Roche, T.D

I propose to take questions 15 and 74 together.

The Government attaches the highest importance to resolving the plight of our undocumented citizens in the United States.

We have emphasised our strong support for the undocumented in all our engagements with the US Administration and Congress, including during meetings earlier this year with President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and key Congressional leaders.

As the Deputies are aware, in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, the Government has been actively pursuing a bilateral approach, aimed at facilitating greater legal migration between the two countries. The approach has had three core objectives: a reciprocal Working Holiday Agreement (now operational); new bilateral arrangements to provide reciprocal long term E3 working visas; and a solution for our undocumented.

While the inclusion of Ireland in an expanded version of the E3 programme would provide extensive new opportunities for Irish people to work in the United States and help ensure that a new generation of undocumented Irish does not develop, our friends on Capitol Hill have been clear that the status of the undocumented Irish cannot be addressed in isolation from other ethnic groups, including by way of an E3. Their advice is that the best prospect for a solution for the undocumented continues to lie with comprehensive immigration reform.

In June, President Obama met with a range of key Congressional figures, including supporters and opponents of reform, to discuss this issue and identify how to begin fixing what he has described as a broken immigration system. His statement, following the meeting that his ‘Administration is fully behind an effort to achieve comprehensive immigration reform’ was welcomed by the Taoiseach in a personal letter he sent to President Obama in July, which outlined the Government’s strong support for the undocumented.

As President Obama has noted, immigration remains ‘a sensitive and politically volatile issue’ in the United States. Bi-partisan support is considered vital to the success of comprehensive reform and our friends on Capitol Hill have made it clear that progressing legislation will continue to present significant challenges. The challenges the Administration is experiencing in progressing its immediate legislative priority of healthcare reform may also delay action on comprehensive reform.

With the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy, Ireland and Irish-America has lost a great friend and leader. An embodiment of the Irish immigrant story, he was a champion of many causes, including, of course, comprehensive immigration reform. His strong support for the undocumented, his understanding of their plight, was unwavering. While the immediate prospects for immigration reform remain uncertain, the Government is determined to build on Senator Kennedy’s legacy by working closely with our many friends in Congress to find a solution for our undocumented.