A newly-established emigrant rights group hosted a public meeting in the Longford Arms Hotel last Friday afternoon as part of its plan to lobby the Irish Government to pursue the introduction of waivers for emigrants living illegaly in the USA, which would allow them to travel home without fear of being denied entry on their return.
The Families of the Undocumented Irish in America is seeking to establish a membership base in each county, which can then co-ordinate efforts at local level.
“Mexico received 58,000 waivers in 2011 because their government pursued them for its citizens,” the group’s Chairperson, Michael McMahon, told the meeting. “We started this campaign back in late June and we need someone to take charge of each area. It’s not about politics, it’s about real human beings. We need a situation where our emigrants can come for a wedding or a funeral and then go back home unhindered. We want [Minister for Foreign Affairs] Charlie Flanagan to take direct action and work the US embassy here.”
Mr McMahon also encouraged the audience to engage with local politicians on the issue.
One local woman who attended the meeting asked not to be identified but told the Longford Leader her son has been unable to return to Ireland for the past 16 years.
“He’s living in Boston and he’s so isolated there,” she said. “We go to see him once a year but we’re getting older now and his father is at the stage where he doesn’t like to fly.
“It’s very lonely for him. Since he went there his grandparents have died and he’s missed family weddings and funerals. He’s the only one who’s been missing [at those events].
“Because of his situation, he’s even afraid to travel outside of Boston to other parts of the United States.”