Draft proposals have been announced today (23rd April) for a scheme to regularise thousands of undocumented migrants living and working in Ireland. This important commitment, hard fought for by the Green Party for inclusion in the Programme for Government, is a crucial step in recognising the immense contribution the estimated 17,000 undocumented people make to our country and will ensure that they can continue to contribute to Irish society free from fear of deportation.
Roderic O’Gorman, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth welcomed the memo stating,
“I’m delighted to see progress being made on the scheme to regularise undocumented migrants. People who have built their lives here and enriched our communities shouldn’t have to live in fear, and should have the opportunity to play a full and active part in Irish life. Through the development of this scheme, the ending of Direct Provision, and the increased support for unaccompanied child refugees, this Government is taking a clear, compassionate approach to integration”.
Recent research from MRCI and Justice for the Undocumented (JFU) shows that over 75% of undocumented migrants surveyed have been living in Ireland for five years or over and 93% are in employment. More than a quarter of these workers are receiving less than the minimum wage for their work and almost 50% are working beyond 40 hour weeks.
Joe O’Brien, at the Department of Rural and Community Development stated,
“I’ve worked on the issues of undocumented people in Ireland for many years, initially when I worked in the NGO sector, so I am very happy that we are making progress in developing a regularisation scheme. These are people whose home is Ireland, who work in Ireland and who are raising families in Ireland. Crucially too so many have contributed as frontline and essential workers in our battle against Covid. The least we can do is to give them official status in the country. Its important that this scheme is broad, easy to understand and fair so that we don’t have very significant groups of people living in the shadows in Ireland.”
By creating a broad and accessible pathway to status we will send a message to these 17,000 people that they are welcome here, that they are an important part of Irish society. Through facilitating a pathway to status we also reduce the opportunity for exploitation in employment and encourage migrants and their families to engage fully and freely with public services, and to feel safe and secure in their communities.
“I welcome this significant and long overdue step in finally allowing long-term undocumented migrants, who have made Ireland their home, to live and work here without constant fear of deportation. Ireland prides itself on standing at the forefront of promoting and defending human rights and this commitment will finally help to ensure nobody is left outside the protection of the law.”
The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee will continue to consult with NGO’s in the sector in the coming weeks and their feedback will further inform the terms of the Scheme. It is expected final terms for the Regularisation Scheme will return to Cabinet in September with a view to the scheme opening before the end of the year.
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