Councillor backs undocumented Irish in USA
OMAGH District Cllr Declan McAleer has added his voice to the growing lobby to legalise undocumented Irish people living in the USA. He said that hundreds of Tyrone people, including people from the Omagh district, are among those who have no legal status in the US.
According to Cllr McAleer "There are approximately 50,000 undocumented Irish people in the USA. Many feel under siege, living in limbo, uncertain about their future and unable to make career plans or start a family because of the fear of imminent deportation.
"One of the most distressing aspects of the draconian immigration measures, which were introduced in the wake of the attack on the twin towers, is the inability to travel home, especially for weddings and funerals. At this festive time of year, many Irish people long to come home for Christmas but this is not possible because of the danger of not being allowed back to resume their lives and careers in the New Year. There are also many cases where elderly grandparents have never seen their grandchildren and even within this district I have seen situations where family members cannot return home to be with their loved ones if a family tragedy occurs."
In an address to the US Senate, Niall O'Dowd who chairs the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR) group, alluded to the difficulties experienced by the undocumented Irish when he referred to a young Irish woman named Mary who lives and works in the USA. When her brother was killed in a car accident several months ago, she had to listen to the funeral service down a telephone line.
Cllr McAleer added, "Perhaps, one of the most damaging measures is the decision not to issue driver licences to people who are not documented. This makes it impossible for parents to leave their children at school and signals financial ruin for construction workers who require licences to travel to work and operate machinery."
According to the ILIR, approximately 300 Irish construction workers rushed to help at Ground Zero on 9/11 and spent the next seven or eight days digging up bodies. None of them were asked for work papers but many are castigated as illegal immigrants and effectively 'on the run' from the authorities as a result of the so called "war on terror".
Cllr McAleer said he would be tabling a motion in Omagh Council to reflect these concerns.
He said he would be personally forwarding a letter to Ms Pelosi and called on other elected representatives and interested groups and individuals to do likewise.
The Mid-Tyrone Councillor concluded, "This initiative, which has the full backing of the Irish government, will help resolve the undocumented Irish issue and effectively 'free' thousands of our fellow countrymen and women from the shadows and allow them to develop and get on with their lives."