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President Michael D. Higgins Raises Issue Of Undocumented Irish Working In United States; Considers The Matter ‘A Very Important Issue For Ireland’

by Diana Tomale / Nov 20, 2015 12:03 AM EST
President Michael D. Higgins raises the issue of undocumented Irish working in the United States during his speech at a reception in San Francisco Sunday.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins admitted that he knows what it feels like of being undocumented, "the risks and shadowy life a person has to live sometimes" and the "continuing insecurity not only for oneself but for others."

During his speech at a reception in San Francisco, the Irish president vows that he will not ignore the issue of undocumented Irish working in the United States, as reported by The Irish Times.

"There are people who are working very hard and contributing to the economy and they are suffering because of the circumstances in which they find themselves," Higgins said.

Higgins said the Irish Consulate, the Embassy and the Irish Government are working on the matter to help Irish workers without papers. Aside from that, the Irish president expressed his gratitude to Anne Anderson who is the 17th Irish Ambassador to the US.

"We couldn't have a better or more competent person advancing what is a very important issue for Ireland," he said.

Higgins delivered his speech in front of more than 140 guests at the United Irish Culture Centre on Sunday, with most of the attendees had emigrated between 1960s and 1970s.

NPR forecasted that an estimation of 50,000 Irish people are working in the US without documents, as per Irish Embassy in Washington. Further reports have revealed that these undocumented Irish citizens "have stayed too long on their visas, and most live in the large Irish populations of New York City, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco."

40-year-old Gerry is on these undocumented Irish living in the US. Gerry used a fake driver's license to cross the Canadian border and illegally enter the country 21 years ago.

The Irish citizen currently runs a small masonry business and has six workers with one of them is also in the country illegally.

"He's got family, and he's worried about his family," he said. "He's traveling from into the city to the job. He's probably worse off than me, because he probably doesn't have a license."

Gerry, among other undocumented Irish in the country, fears he will be denied for re-entry if he leaves the US. 

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