Republic of Ireland news

Thousands of undocumented migrants ‘no longer have to live in the shadows'

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said there are thousands of undocumented people living in the Republic's communities, who are working and paying taxes
Cate McCurry, PA

Thousands of undocumented migrants will no longer have to “live in the shadows”, following a new scheme that will allow them to regularise their status in the Republic.

The government announced the scheme that will allow up to 17,000 undocumented people, including up to 3,000 children, to live in Ireland and regularise their residency status.

Many of the thousands of people who are employed are usually in low-paid jobs.

The scheme will open to all undocumented migrants who have spent four years living in the state without an immigration permission, or three years in the case of those with children.

A fee of €700 will apply to a family application, while individual applications will cost 550 euro.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said there are thousands of undocumented people living in the Republic's communities, who are working and paying taxes.

“Their children are in our schools, they are part of the very fabric of our society and without even knowing it, many of them are undocumented,” Ms McEntee said.

“The huge strain and the pressure that places on them and their mental health and their ability to live their lives in the way that they want to.

“I believe this is the right thing to do.

“It will open in January, and there will be six months for people to apply for this scheme.

“Obviously, in the interim period, I’ll be working with all of our NGOs … to ensure that we can reach as many people as possible.”

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said: “When we talk about people who are undocumented, we often talk about them having to live in the shadows, but that’s only true to a certain extent.

“The people who are undocumented, they’re our neighbours, they’re our friends, they are our work colleagues, sometimes they’re our family.

“They are members of communities all over Ireland.

“We’ve seen time again in Ireland, campaigns to end direct provision.

“It’s important as a country we do not shy away from compassion.

“This scheme will have a particular impact for individuals in the direct provision system for more than two years. They’ll be entitled to apply for this scheme as well.

“It will enable people who’ve been living in Ireland long term to fully integrate into Irish society and become full participating members of their communities.”

Minister of State James Browne said the scheme is the right thing to do.

“This scheme is to provide an opportunity to regularise those who have been living for many years in Ireland without a legal status, in light of the uncertainty and the vulnerability that this brings,” he added.

“Many adults and children will benefit from this scheme, through increased career and educational opportunities.

“Being in an undocumented situation means being more exposed to being exploited in employment or at least have difficulty in moving around in the labour market.”

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