News | Ritchie: Obama’s announcement a ‘welcome step in the right direction’

Ritchie: Obama’s announcement a ‘welcome step in the right direction’

SDLP spokesperson for International Affairs, Margaret Ritchie MP has welcomed an announcement by US President Barack Obama who announced executive immigration reform early Friday morning (GMT). The measures will protect undocumented immigrants living in the US from deportation of which an estimated 50,000 are Irish. Ms Ritchie described the announcement as, ‘a welcome step in the right direction’:

“This announcement comes at an appropriate time in the run up to Christmas. Thousands of Irish expats, including many from South Down, will not see their loved ones over fears that they will be unable to return to their lives in the States. I have heard the anguish this has caused the families left behind, who have only been able to visit their sons, daughters, brothers or sisters in America. This can be extremely taxing for older people or those on lower incomes.

“While Mr Obama has made a welcome step in the right direction, the conditions on this protection leaves much to be desired. To be eligible you must have resided in the US for 5 years as a legal resident and have children who are American citizens. I’m sure this excludes a large number of those who stayed awake hoping for good news from the President. We would like Mr Obama to acknowledge the valuable contribution made by Irish immigrants in the US by extending this protection to be more inclusive.”

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