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Justice Minister Helen McEntee has supported the campaign which is going nationwide this year.

Support for Clare’s undocumented

CLARE Immigrant Support Centre is urging those who are undocumented to avail of a new scheme which could provide them with a path to Irish citizenship.

The Regularisation Scheme for undocumented migrants was announced by Justice Minister Helen McEntee.

It followed representations and submissions by organisations, including Clare Immigrant Support Centre.

The initiative means that people who have not had legal status for at least four years – or three years if they have children here – will be eligible to apply.

While there are calls for the scope of the scheme to be widened, Clare Immigrant Support Centre believes it has benefits for many.

According to the centre, there are many different reasons a person becomes undocumented in Ireland.

Some arrive on tourist visas and overstay to work, others may come as students or on temporary work permits and illegally remain in the country after their permission has lapsed, others could be victims of human trafficking.

Due to the invisible nature of many undocumented migrants, it can be extremely difficult to quantify the number of people in this position, but it is estimated that it could be up to 20,000.
In Clare, it is estimated that there could be up to 1,000 undocumented migrants.

A report last year from the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland ( MRCI), entitled ‘We live here, we work here. We belong here’, surveyed 1,000 undocumented people living in Ireland.

It found that 93% were working to support themselves, with almost half working over 40 hours a week.

The survey also found that over a quarter of workers were carers for elderly people in their home, and that 26% of people did not receive the minimum wage.

One local Clare undocumented person described the stress of living without formal immigration status.

“Life as an undocumented migrant in Ireland can be stressful and is difficult for a number of reasons, the fear of deportation is always there,” they said.

“In my daily life I find ways of deliberately avoiding making contact with any form of authority figure, including visiting the doctor when you are sick, or contacting Gardaí in the case of a
crime against you for fear that the person would realise my undocumented status in the country.”

It is expected that the regularisation scheme will be open in the next month and will run for six months, during which time people can apply, with each application being assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Successful applicants will be given the right to live and work legally in the country, and will have a pathway to becoming Irish citizens.

Many EU countries have carried out both large scale and smaller regularisation schemes over the past three decades. It is estimated that between 1996 and 2008, 3.5 million people were regularised in Europe.

Clare Immigrant Support Centre has said it will provide multilingual information and support for undocumented people in the county so they can benefit from this Regularisation Scheme, come out of the shadows and be unafraid as they continue to build their lives here in Clare.

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