WATCH | Irish leader Enda Kenny reminds Trump of the Irish who are in the country illegally
Ahead of St. Patrick’s day, the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny met with President Trump to celebrate. But it wasn’t all rainbows and pots of gold when the Irish leader had pressed Trump privately and publicly to offer a path of citizenship for the Irish inhabitants who reside in the U.S. illegally.
“It would remove a burden of so many people that they can stand out in the light and say now I am free to contribute to America,” Kenny said at a Congressional luncheon.
Currently, there are about 50,000 Irish here illegally-- many of whom have overstayed their visas. That 50,000 is just a drop in the bucket considering there are about 11 million undocumented people here. But that drop in the bucket is about 1 percent of Ireland’s population of approximately 4.9 million.
To put things in perspective, the undocumented Irish problem is similar to about half of the undocumented people in the U.S. who didn’t get into the country illegally, but have overstayed their visa.
"With Ireland, the interesting thing is there this notion that because Irish people are English speakers and they come from a culture that some many similarities to our that somehow it’s less of a legal violation... however, it’s just as problematic," Matt O'Brien of anti-immigration group FAIR told Circa.
The focus of most of Trump’s anti-illegal immigration rhetoric has been targeted at those who illegally crossed the border as well as terrorists from the Middle East.
But for those who overstay their visas, they might not have the luck of the Irish regardless of their nationality. These individuals could still be caught in the crack down on illegal immigration.
Kenny is fighting for protections for his countrymen, but for some, that’s just another sign that we need a fix for our immigration system that applies to everyone.
“If anything, St. Patrick’s Day 2017 is an opportunity to think about the similarities between the Irish immigrant of yesterday or even last year and the Central American immigrant of just two weeks ago," Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum told Circa in an interview.
And Kenny's plea for his citizens reminds us all of a problem that about 5 million people in our country have, even if he is just focusing on 50,000 people.