Cork people are living in fear in Boston - after recent immigration crackdown
DESPITE the harrowing events in Boston on Monday, there was some good news for Cork people in America this week as an immigration reform bill was brought before the US Senate that could offer illegal immigrants legal status to remain in the States.
The Bill has been provisionally welcomed by Irish representative groups, following raids earlier this month by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that have impacted on many Irish abroad, including numerous Corkonians.
"There is a huge population of people from Cork residing here in the US without status," Kieran O'Sullivan of the Irish Pastoral Centre in Boston told The Corkman this week.
"While we take calls from people residing here originally from every part of Ireland, the counties with the greatest population here are Cork, Galway, Donegal, Dublin, Kerry, with a slightly smaller population from all of the other counties including the Six Counties," he explained.
Mr O'Sullivan said that many Cork people are now living in fear of a raid on their homes by the ICE.
"One lady broke down while talking about how scared she is because she has a new born baby. Many are now in great fear that because they have obtained their licenses in this manner, their addresses are now in a database at the Registry of Motor Vehicles," he said.
Fear of detention is so strong, Mr O'Sullivan said, that while people are seeking help, they are afraid to reveal their undocumented status.
"A number of those who have been in touch with me because they are worried about future detentions would not talk to the media about their plight. They are too nervous. In fact these individuals are often so nervous they are not even comfortable giving me their address for our newsletter database.
"There is great distress in the community after the detentions. These actions further highlight the need for comprehensive immigration reform. Our government has actively advocated on our behalf in Washington, DC, in meetings with US counterparts and we hope this continues," he said.
On Tuesday a group of bipartisan senators led by former US presidential candidate John McCain introduced a bill that would pave the way for legalisation for allowing undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before December 31, 2011 to apply for legal status, but would in turn seek increased security along America's borders.
"We hope the bill will be comprehensive enough to grant status to all of the undocumented Irish in the US so people can come out of the shadows and stop living in constant fear of being apprehended," Mr O'Sullivan said.