Regularisation hugely welcome – time to restore full birthright citizenship

03 December 2021

Welcoming the news today that the Department of Justice will regularise thousands of undocumented migrants and their families, Labour spokesperson on Children, Equality and Integration Ivana Bacik TD has said that the government must continue to work with Labour and other stakeholders for the full achievement of Labour Youth’s ‘Born Here Belong Here’ campaign.

Deputy Bacik said:

“The news announced by the Department this morning marks a very positive step forward for many people and something for which we in the Labour Party have been working, alongside many NGOs like the Migrant Rights Centre, the Children’s Rights Alliance and the Immigrant Council of Ireland. Those who are undocumented have been providing vital care for us and our loved ones during one of the greatest challenges in the State’s history, throughout this Covid pandemic. But as a result of their uncertain legal status, they have been at increased risk of exploitation by their employers or landlords and may be reluctant to seek medical help or contact the Gardai for fear of deportation.

“Indeed, we have an estimated 3000 undocumented children in Ireland, these are our ‘Dreamers’. So it is time to keep the government’s focus on this and achieve a full reversal of the effects of the 2004 Citizenship Referendum and reintroduce birth right citizenship for all children born in Ireland. It’s simply not right that children born outside Ireland may not have the same rights as the children they sit beside at school.

“Recent polling shows that as many as 70% of people in Ireland support such an initiative, which is no surprise, given our own history of emigration and the large Irish diaspora. It’s time for government to progress Labour’s legislation that exists to remedy this and provide greater citizenship rights for children.

“As we mark this milestone in the Born Here Belong Here campaign for greater citizenship rights for children born in Ireland, we remember our friend and comrade, Cormac Ó Braonáin, who died in December 2019 at just nineteen years of age. He and I spoke many times about achieving what has been announced this morning and many other related issues. I commend Labour Youth for continuing his legacy by bringing so much energy and enthusiasm to their Born Here Belong Here campaign.

“I would also like to acknowledge Minister McEntee’s engagement with me on this issue over recent months and we welcome her commitment today to regularising undocumented migrants. I look forward to engaging further with her and the Department on this issue and others, particularly on the areas of reckonable residence and of decoupling the status of children from that of their parents for the purpose of applying for citizenship. Labour are committed to working constructively in opposition to bring further progressive change.”

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