SIGNIFICANT ILLEGAL immigration of Irish people to the US has begun again, making it even more critical that a long-term solution be found to the problem, founder-member of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform Niall O'Dowd said last night.
Speaking in Dún Chaoin, Co Kerry, at the opening of the Blasket Island Foundation seminar on emigration, he said: "The Irish immigrant centres all over the US are reporting a significant surge . . . and the anecdotal evidence in Irish neighbourhoods is backing that up. We are particularly seeing the traditional type of Irish emigrant - construction workers, waitresses - who are the first to experience the effects of the Irish economic downturn.
"We already have tens of thousands of undocumented whom we are seeking to help," he added.
Mr O'Dowd said immigration reform was a divisive issue and had taken a back seat in the US election. "Given the current economic emergency it is hard to see McCain or Obama giving the issue of immigration reform any major priority if elected," he said.