Concern mounts for 50,000 undocumented Irish living in US
The Government has stepped up contact with immigration centres throughout the US amid mounting concern that 50,000 undocumented Irish risk deportation.
US President Donald Trump last week vowed to follow through on his election promise to crack down on illegal immigrants. His executive order introducing major changes to America's immigration laws has caused widespread unease among the thousands of undocumented Irish living in the US, many of whom have been there for decades.
Immigration centres which cater for the huge contingent of Irish in America are understood to have experienced a significant spike in contact from those fearful they could be thrown out of the country.
Trump's executive order could also punish "sanctuary cities", which currently offer a form of protection to undocumented residents. He could deny these designated urban areas hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants. Such cities include New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles and Denver.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan confirmed the Irish embassy in Washington, as well as the six consulates in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Austin, were in "active and ongoing contact" with Irish immigration centres throughout the US.
"My department will continue to monitor developments in this area very closely," he added. Boston mayor Marty Walsh, an Irish-American, said he was "deeply disturbed" by Trump's actions, which could withdraw funding from the city.
Boston is home to approximately 10,000 undocumented Irish. "I will use all of my power within lawful means to protect all Boston residents," Walsh said.
Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, another sanctuary city, also hit out against Trump's orders.
He vowed to welcome people no matter where they are from.
"There is no stranger among us," he said. "We welcome people, whether you're from Poland or Pakistan, whether you're from Ireland or India or Israel and whether you're from Mexico or Moldova, where my grandfather came from, you are welcome in Chicago as you pursue the American dream."
Meanwhile, the US embassy in Dublin has confirmed that the 90-day ban on people from countries named in an executive order by US President Donald Trump is in operation at the US immigration pre-clearance facility in Dublin and Shannon airports.
Last Friday, Trump signed a sweeping executive order to suspend right of entry into the United States of refugees. The order imposed tough controls on travellers from seven Muslim countries.
It means entry to the country is being denied to people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The embassy has also said that scheduled visa interviews with nationals from these countries will not be going ahead.