Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Irish Times: Ahern welcomes Bush's comments on immigration

Bush immigration comments welcomed
Kilian Doyle
Wed, Jan 24, 2007

The Government has welcomed a pledge by President George W Bush to reform US immigration laws and resolve the status of illegal aliens, including tens of thousands of Irish workers.

In his State of the Union address last night, Mr Bush called for a "serious, civil, and conclusive debate" on the issue prior to signing comprehensive immigration reform into law.

"We need to resolve the status of the illegal immigrants who are already in our country without animosity and without amnesty," Mr Bush said.

There are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the US, including more than 20,000 Irish citizens.

In a statement today, Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern said he "warmly" welcomed Mr Bush's comments, which he said would "add significant momentum" to the campaign to secure rights for undocumented immigrants in the US.

"Mr Bush has consistently called for a humane and balanced solution to this sensitive issue. His support for the enactment of legislation that would regularise the status of the undocumented is particularly encouraging," Mr Ahern said.

"The Government is determined to continue its active engagement on behalf of our people in the US who remain caught in the shadow of fear and uncertainty," the Minister added.
Mr Ahern said he and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern intended to raise the issue again with Mr Bush and other senior US politicians when they visit the US over the forthcoming St Patrick's Day holiday period.

Fine Gael's emigrant affairs spokesman Paul Connaughton also welcomed Mr Bush's comments, saying his party was committed to continuing lobbying the US political and business community on the issue.

"I believe that in terms of developing a solution for the undocumented Irish who have lived, worked and built a life in the US we have reached an important milestone, but the battle is only really beginning," he said. "The case for the undocumented Irish must be made on the grounds of the contribution that these people are making, each and every day, to the economic well-being of the United States."

Fine Gael and Labour have published a joint policy document entitled Reaching Out: Caring for the Irish Abroad in which they outline measures they would take to help emigrants if elected to government.

© 2007

For a link to the Irish Times article, click here.

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