Message from the Counsel General of Ireland on Immigration Reform

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Last week Paul Gleeson, Counsel General of Ireland, sent us the following message in the wake of President Obama’s announcement on Thursday about executive action on immigration reform. 

Dear Friends,

I wanted to send you a short message in the wake of President Obama’s announcement on Thursday about executive action on immigration reform. And I want to thank you for all the work you and your organisation has done in recent years to highlight the Irish perspective to this complicated issue.  It is notable that recognition of the situation of the undocumented Irish has featured in many speeches and much press coverage in recent days. Today, when the President speaks in Chicago, he will be introduced by an immigrant and businessman from Galway, Billy Lawless.

Clearly, the measures announced by the President have the potential to be transformative for thousands of undocumented Irish. In particular, Irish people who have been here in the US for more than five years and who have a US-born child or children will have an opportunity to register for temporary relief from deportation and work authorisation. These measures, of course, exclude undocumented Irish without children and the case and concerns of these couples and individuals will remain a priority for the Government, the Embassy and the Consulates over the period ahead.

We are aware too that the right to travel is a priority for undocumented Irish people here in the US, with the lack of opportunity to travel home for family funerals or other occasions one of the saddest aspects of life in the US for many until now. It is important to note that the measures announced by the President will not confer an immediate right to travel on anyone who has registered for temporary relief from deportation. Rather, those who achieve this status when the programme opens in six months time will be able to apply for advance permission (technically known as ‘advance parole’) to travel in circumstances of humanitarian emergency, likely involving serious family illness, bereavement or comparable family crises. The precise definition of what will be acceptable for ‘advance parole’ remains to be clarified and is an issue which the Embassy will be tracking closely over the months ahead.

I am attaching here a list of Irish immigration centres in the US which you may wish to share with your organisations or members. These centres are supported through the Irish government’s Emigrant Support Programme and are well-placed to advice undocumented Irish people on how the measures announced by the President will impact them. Irish people with concerns in Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas will wish to note in particular the contact details of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York, while Irish people in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana may wish to make enquiries in the first instance with Chicago Irish Immigrant Support.

We remain hopeful that bipartisan immigration reform will be enacted by the next Congress which deals comprehensively with the situation faced by all undocumented Irish and which permits a legal means for more skilled young Irish people to be able to work here in the future. We appreciate your ongoing support in these efforts, which is absolutely critical to seeing these issues resolved.

Finally, happy Thanksgiving to you and your families! This November, I am particularly thankful for all you do on behalf of Ireland and Irish people living here in the US south-east.


With warm regards,



Paul Gleeson

Consul General of Ireland

November 29, 2014 |
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