US ruling blocks Obama's plans for illegal Irish
Published 25/06/2016 | 02:30
A ruling by the US Supreme Court which has blocked plans to protect millions of immigrants from deportation has been described as "devastating" by Ireland's first emigrant senator.
Senator Billy Lawless made the comments after the court was split four-four on a decision on President Barack Obama's immigration Executive Orders, which would have benefited more than four million immigrants in the US. This would include many of the 50,000 Irish undocumented.
Plans under the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) would have allowed immigrants who are the parents of US citizens or of Green Card holders to remain in the US legally.
However, Thursday's split decision has left lower court rulings, which blocked the programmes, in place.
"This is a truly devastating day for the thousands of Irish undocumented workers across the United States, who had pinned their hopes on President Obama's executive orders on immigration," Mr Lawless said after the split vote.
"This is not the end of the road though and I will continue to advocate fiercely for the most vulnerable members of the Irish community this side of the Atlantic."
He added that although the Irish immigrant community is "resilient", the Supreme Court ruling serves as a "harsh reminder" that work needs to be done to protect the undocumented Irish living in the US.
Co-founder of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, Ciaran Staunton, called on the Irish Government to get involved, after what he called a "nightmare" situation.
This could be done by working with the US Embassy in Ireland, Mr Staunton said.
Meanwhile, Mr Obama said the ruling was "heartbreaking" for the millions of immigrants.
The normally nine-judge Supreme Court was left with a vacant position, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia and Republican opposition to Obama's nominee to fill the seat.