Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Dáil Eireann Debate
286. Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised with the new US Administration the issue of the undocumented Irish in the USA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3178/09]
President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton and other senior members of the new Administration have for some time been strong supporters of comprehensive immigration reform. Since the new year, there have also been helpful public indications that Senate Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid, and Senator John McCain intend to support action in this area. However, as the Deputy will appreciate, the issue remains politically divisive in the US Congress and making progress will be challenging.
The members of the new Administration and Congress are currently taking up office in Washington, and we will be establishing substantive contact shortly. In doing so, we will build on the extensive work on behalf of the undocumented that the Government has carried out over recent years with many of those now within the Administration.
The St. Patrick’s Day period presents an ideal opportunity for the Taoiseach, myself and other members of Government to engage the new Administration on the matter at the very highest level. Our Ambassador in Washington will also attach the highest priority to this issue in his ongoing contacts with the Obama Administration.
More broadly, the Government is actively seeking to reform our overall migration arrangements with the United States. In addition to our work on behalf of the undocumented, the Government recently concluded a new Working Holiday Agreement with the United States and is working to secure the passage of legislation which would enable Irish citizens to avail of the E3 working visa currently open to Australians.
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