tags: Blog

Irish Undocumented Wish Happy St. Patrick’s Day to Their U.S. Counterparts

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With Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny visiting President Obama to discuss world issues — including his own support for immigration reform — the Migrant Rights Centre gathered in Dublin, Ireland yesterday to unveil a giant St. Patrick’s Day banner in solidarity with America’s undocumented population.

The banner, reading “Happy St. Patrick’s Day to the undocumented in the U.S.A. from the undocumented in Ireland,” stretched nearly the entire length of a four-story building.

In a statement released before banner’s the unveiling, the Migrant Rights Centre urged the Prime Minister to recognize the needs of Ireland’s undocumented immigrants, who, though a world apart from undocumented immigrants in the United States, face the same daily challenges and difficulties:

“The Taoiseach has shown a deep understanding for the plight of the undocumented Irish – separated from their families, living in the shadows, unable to travel home even for funerals. It’s time for him to acknowledge the people here in Ireland in exactly the same situation. By the time he reaches the White House on St. Patrick’s Day, over 2,000 people from all over Ireland will have emailed him to urge him to act for the undocumented in Ireland.

Regularising undocumented migrants in Ireland would bring them out from the shadows and into the system. It’s good for society, it’s good for the economy, and it would strengthen the Government’s advocacy in the US. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the smart thing to do.”

Jayson Montenegro, an immigrant who has lived in Ireland for over a decade, added:

“We’re wishing the undocumented in America a happy St. Patrick’s Day because we know how they feel. Undocumented people in Ireland share the struggles and fears of the Irish undocumented in America, and we share their hopes and dreams too. We support their fight for regularisation, and we wish the Taoiseach the very best in his efforts to assist them.

Undocumented workers and families in Ireland just want the chance to get regularised, too.”

There are some 30,000 undocumented immigrants living in Ireland, and in the United States, an estimated 50,000 undocumented immigrants from Ireland — including 10,000 in Boston alone.

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches tomorrow, this banner should serve as a reminder to all of us in the U.S. that this holiday should be more than excuse to have a big party. It should serve as a reminder of the many undocumented immigrants — on both sides of the Atlantic — who have so much to contribute to their communities and simply long for a chance to finally become recognized by their countries.

A Storify of the banner unveiling in Dublin below.

And, Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh!