Ireland called on to Provide Pathway to Residency for Undocumented Children

Ireland called on to Provide Pathway to Residency for Undocumented Children

An open letter calling for a clear pathway to residency for undocumented children and young people in Ireland will be delivered to the country’s Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan.

Over 4,000 people including teachers, students and representatives from unions, youth groups and children’s organisations have signed the letter in support of the many children and young people who are growing up undocumented in the country.

According to NGO organisation the Migrants Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), it is difficult to be certain as to how many undocumented children currently live in Ireland.

Current figures estimate that there are between 20,000 to 26,000 undocumented migrants in Ireland; of those it is believed between 2,000 and 3,000 are children.

Undocumented people cannot become citizens as they have no right to residency.

They are also denied access to third level education and have no right to work.

For these children, many of whom have lived most of their lives in Ireland, their lack of legal status on completing second level education leaves them in a legal limbo.

They are left without the ability to proceed with education and training or to legally enter the workforce.

The MRCI also highlights the mental health impact on these children and young people in carrying the burden of an uncertain future with them.

The MRCI is calling on for the current situation to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Mairéad McDevitt, MRCI youth worker, said ‘A year is a long time in the life of a child, and some of these children and young people have been waiting for many, many years. We can’t make them wait for the next government. They need stability, security, and hope for the future – and they need it now.’

 She went on to say,Time is now of the essence. This must be addressed in the lifetime of this government. Minister Flanagan must urgently introduce a pathway to residency for children and young people growing up undocumented in Ireland.’

A survey of 185 undocumented children carried out by MRCI earlier this year revealed that:

  • 68% were born in Ireland
  • 32% were born outside of Ireland

Of those born outside of Ireland:

  • 78% have lived in the country for over 5 years, with some living in Ireland for more than 16 years.

In February 2016, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) reviewed Ireland’s progress in realising its international commitments under the Convention.

In its concluding recommendations the CRC emphasised that ‘all children are entitled to the full protection and implementation of the Convention, irrespective of their or their parents’ legal status.

It recommended that Ireland expeditiously adopt a comprehensive legal immigration framework in accordance with international legal standards and ensure that it provides for formal procedures for conferring immigration status to children and their families who are in irregular migration situation.’

Speaking last week about undocumented children in Ireland, the country’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, ‘They have grown up here and speak with Dublin, Cork or Donegal accents. They will not be deported. It will be correct to regularise them, but we just need to get it right.’

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