Issue Of Undocumented Irish living in America is now back on the table at Newry Mourne and Down District Council.
Newry Mourne & Down Council have agreed to write to President Biden urging the new American President to prioritise the creation of a roadmap to citizenship for all those classes as documented.
Sinn Féin Councillors Barra Ó Muirí and Gerry O Hare brought their motion forward on Monday evening at a full council meeting.
The motion read: “This Council recognising the ongoing plight of the thousands of undocumented Irish living in America, many of whom are from this Council region, urges President Biden to prioritise legislation to create a roadmap to citizenship for them and all those classed as ‘undocumented’.
The received unanimous support from across the council chamber.
Cllr Barra Ó Muirí addressing the full Council on his motion said: “This motion proposes that we write to President Biden asking him to prioritise legislation to create a roadmap to citizenship for the ‘undocumented Irish’ and all those classed as undocumented.
“President Biden has consistently and continues to be a strong supporter of the Irish peace process, and defender of the Good Friday Agreement.
“He has also been unequivocal in his stance on Brexit. Warning the Johnson government that any trade deal between Britain and the United States, is conditional on the British honouring the Good Friday Agreement”.
The Slieve Gullion area Councillor added:
“As one who is deeply proud of his Irish roots, and who is himself a descendant of Irish emigrants to America, I hope that President Biden will look favourably on the plight of the undocumented Irish in the United States.
“It is believed there are as many as 50,000 undocumented Irish people living in the US. Hard-working people, tax payers, home-owners and contributors to society.
“This issue impacts on many from this Newry Mourne Down and Armagh region, irrespective of their creed or class and it is imperative that all political leaders on this island use their contacts and influence to finally address their nightmare”.
The Sinn Féin elected representative said there was now a fresh hope that the ‘undocumented’ issue would be resolved, adding: “Since its inception, the United States has offered hope and succour to generations of Irish people, fleeing from poverty, famine and repression. Many of who whom have made considerable contributions to their adopted country.
“I hope that the Biden Presidency will look favourably on the plight of the undocumented Irish. I believe that we can look forward with more optimism than we have felt for quite some time on this issue.”
Cllr Gerry O’Hare, who lived in the USA for 17 years, 10 as an undocumented citizen, supported the motion and reflected and said: “The Christmas period is an especially difficult time for the undocumented Irish in America.
“Many people from this area have family members living and working in America who they have not see because of the restrictions on travel enforced by their undocumented status.
“It is imperative that the issue of the undocumented Irish in America and all the hardships that go with such status are resolved in a humane manner. The fear of not being allowed to re-enter the US, where many Irish people have made good lives for themselves, has meant that these people have been cut off from their families and their native country.
“This has caused much hardship for the ‘undocumented Irish’ and for their families back home. Return visits, holidays, weddings and even funerals in Ireland are out of the question”.
He spoke of the contribution made by many of those classed as ‘undocumented’, and said: “It must be remembered that the undocumented Irish worked very hard and made a powerful contribution to American social life and the economy.
“The Irish in America must have their contribution to the country’s society recognised and their status formalised. We in Ireland have a responsibility to argue their case to a successful conclusion.
“This wrong affects us all. There continue be many sad and distressed homes in the Newry Mourne and Down area at times like Christmas, weddings, funerals and other family gatherings because of the failure to resolve the undocumented issue”.
Concluding, Councillor O’Hare said: “The issue of the undocumented Irish remains unresolved. Our families, friends and members our communities are living under the continued threat of being demonised as felons and being deported.
“This motion and the unanimous support for it is a clear indication that the issue of the undocumented Irish living in America, many of whom are family members and friends, is firmly back on the table.
“A letter from this Council will now be sent to President Biden asking him to prioritise legislation to create a roadmap to citizenship for them and all those classed as undocumented”.