Undocumented migrants in Ireland 'living in fear' as hundreds protest in city
Ireland's undocumented migrants are living in fear of deportation, campaigners have said.
A group of 1,400 workers and their families have called for immigration reform at home as the political elite champions the cause of the Irish in the shadows in the US this St Patrick's Day.
Filipino and Chinese people are among the most likely to become irregular, in terms of their migrant status, in Ireland. Up to 20,000 are estimated to live in the country.
Justice for the Undocumented said: "We're here today to send a message to political leaders travelling to Washington: We need immigration reform here in Ireland, too. We're here to remind them that there are undocumented migrants in Ireland too.
"We're here in solidarity with undocumented migrants everywhere, especially the undocumented Irish in the US, this St Patrick's Day."
Lobbyists for reform held a Dublin street party yesterday to highlight their cause.
"We stand strong in solidarity with undocumented migrants on both sides of the Atlantic.
"We are calling on our political leaders to act with integrity and think of their home country and the situation here as they travel abroad for St Patrick's Day; to remember us as they ask US leaders to think of the Irish undocumented there.
"We too work hard in our adopted country, we too are unable to travel home for funerals and weddings, we too are asking for a chance to come forward and stop living in fear."
Most migrants have been in Ireland for more than five years and have found work. Almost half are parents and more than half have third-level education.
Around 86pc entered the country legally and subsequently became undocumented.
A regularisation proposal from the undocumented campaign group, which would allow them the chance to re-enter the immigration system, is supported by a diverse coalition of business, political and civil society groups and has been considered by the Government.
The Department of Justice has traditionally opposed any large-scale measures to regularise the status of migrants and has examined individuals on a case-by-case basis.
However, former Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has expressed support for regularisation measures.