Friday 20 October 2017

Kenny: US citizenship moves should be open to ‘other illegal immigrants’

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny holds a joint press conference with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (Niall Carson/PA)
Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny holds a joint press conference with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (Niall Carson/PA)

By Associated Press

Mr Kenny will lobby on behalf of the 50,000 undocumented Irish when he meets President Trump in Washington on Thursday.

Any future pathway to securing citizenship for the thousands of undocumented Irish living in the United States should also be offered to other illegal immigrants, Enda Kenny has urged.

The Irish Taoiseach acknowledged the administration in Washington should not pick and choose in regard to which nationalities living in the US without permission could secure clarity around their status.

His comments came after meeting Boston mayor Marty Walsh. The gaelic-speaking Irish American mayor said he was very proud of his heritage but rejected any suggestion that the Irish undocumented could be treated as a “special case”.

Mr Kenny will lobby on behalf of the 50,000 undocumented Irish when he meets President Trump in Washington on Thursday.

The Taoiseach, who is on his annual St Patrick’s trip to the US, said he would like to see any potential accommodation extended to other immigrants.

“Clearly we have some concerns and anxieties about those who are undocumented here and we want to work with the administration in a way to deal with that, not just in the case of Ireland but also in the case of some of the others.

“Because it’s not a case of picking and choosing. While we might like to think we can sort out our own problem of 50,000 undocumented, there are 11 million people in the United states who have not the required paperwork and documentation.”

With such worldwide focus on Mr Trump’s controversial immigration policies, Mr Kenny’s efforts to raise the undocumented Irish will draw intense scrutiny.

As part of his crackdown, the president has taken steps against “sanctuary cities” in the US, where local authorities refuse to implement federal immigration policies. Boston is one such city.

Mr Walsh has been highly critical of the new administration’s stance on immigration.

“Hopefully the Taoiseach will be able to help a little bit here and be able to say and have a conversation with the president and the administration and the leadership of the Republican party about how do we come up with a solution, rather than accusing folks of being illegal or being criminal,” he said.

“I can’t stand here today and say I feel comfortable with where we are as a country. Hopefully at some point we will be able to move to that point, but not today.”

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