Tuesday 17 October 2017

What lies in store for the undocumented Irish in America under President Trump?

Minister Katherine Zappone pictured with US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin F O Malley, at the US Embassy Election night 2016 at the Guinness Store House.Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
Minister Katherine Zappone pictured with US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin F O Malley, at the US Embassy Election night 2016 at the Guinness Store House.Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
Daire Courtney

Daire Courtney

Concerns have been expressed for the undocumented Irish in America since Donald Trump’s surprise victory, given his promise to deport undocumented workers.

There are 50,000 Irish people living in the United States without visas, who were left in limbo earlier this year when the Supreme Court split down the middle on President Barack Obama’s plan to spare them from deportation while their status is decided.

If Trump follows through on his plans, they could be facing deportation.

“For the undocumented that do not have relief, such as being married to an American citizen, they can be deported and Donald Trump has said that in his first 100 days, that’s what he’s going to do,” Carol Kinsella, immigration lawyer, told RTÉ's Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning.

She also raised concerns about Donald Trump’s plan to abolish Sanctuary Cities, which offer protections to undocumented immigrants.

“There are hundreds of Sanctuary Cities - Miami, New York, Chicago are highly Irish-populated areas. A Sanctuary City effectively means the following: law enforcement cannot inquire about your immigration, and you do not have to disclose it, so there is a protection,” Ms Kinsella said.

“So for example, if the cops pull you over, they can’t ask you ‘what is your immigration status?’ and then send you onto an immigration centre and have you deported. And Mr Trump, the President-Elect, has said he wants to get rid of all these Sanctuary Cities.”

It is not yet clear whether the President-Elect will be able to abolish these policies by executive order, but with a Republican majority in the House and the Senate, it is a much stronger possibility.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern expressed concern for the undocumented Irish, saying: “Hillary was determined to do something about it.

“I wonder and worry about how they’ll be treated now, and I feel very sorry for them,” he told Today with Sean O’Rourke.

US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley was more reassuring on the subject, stating immigration reform will focus on fairness and not punishment.

“Now that both the Senate and the House will both be in control by the same party with a President from the same party, they’ll have an opportunity to do some immigration reform,” the Ambassador told Morning Ireland this morning.

“It will not necessarily be a tightening but a rationalisation of it so that it’s equal and fair for everyone.”

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