Group calls on Minister to widen scheme for undocumented workers

A coalition of 25 business, trade union and civil society organisations has written to Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys expressing their “thorough concern” that thousands of undocumented workers and their children could be “excluded” from a forthcoming scheme to regularise their position.

Under the plan, due to go to Cabinet in coming weeks and open for applications before Christmas, migrants who have been continuously undocumented for four years – or for three years for those who have children here – will be eligible for regularisation.

It comes more than a decade after Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) began its Justice for the Undocumented campaign, and has been broadly welcomed as a measure that will “transform the lives of thousands of people”.

Its restriction, however, to migrants who have been continuously undocumented for three or four years excludes thousands who, for example, have been in Ireland on student visas or work permits for many years but who became undocumented in the last two years.

It could also exclude those who have been undocumented for many years, but who managed to obtain permanent permission for a few months thereby interrupting their undocumented time.

Flexible

Supporting the call for a more flexible, inclusive scheme, Ian Talbot, chief executive of Chambers Ireland, said: “Ireland needs workers right now across a variety of sectors. Here we have a cohort of workers who have continued to work all by the pandemic. It makes no sense to exclude some undocumented people from this scheme and leave them to continue working in the shadows.”

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