“I’ve never told anyone that I’m undocumented. None of my friends know. I feel like I have to hide a piece of myself from the people I care about.”
A new short film gives young undocumented people in Ireland a chance to tell their stories for the first time. The ‘Young, Paperless and Powerful’ group, brought together by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), is made up of 14-21 year olds who, like their parents, are living here in Ireland undocumented – i.e., do not have immigration papers. For young people this means they are unable to work, unable to go to college, and unable to travel. There is currently no way for them to fix this.
The 4-minute film follows the group as they design and paint a mural in Dublin city centre and talk about what it’s like to be undocumented in Ireland in 2015. Many of the young people have never told anyone outside of their family that they are undocumented, despite living in Ireland for many years – over a decade, in some cases.
Amanthi has lived in Ireland with her mother for 12 years. She is undocumented. Amanthi stated, “I’ve lived in Ireland for most of my life now. My family is here, my nieces and nephews are Irish, my mother works and pays taxes. I feel no connection with the country I was born in anymore. Ireland is my home; I can’t imagine leaving it.”
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) is part of a coalition supporting the MRCI’s call for a regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants in Ireland.
Launching the film today, NYCI Director Mary Cunningham said, “Growing up in rural Ireland, I knew that many of those who emigrated from my home town ended up undocumented in the US. Today in Ireland there are thousands of young people experiencing the same difficulties. NYCI is deeply concerned about the effect of this stress and fear on young people growing up here and feeling hopeless about their futures. This film is an opportunity to hear the voices of these young people; we need to listen to them.”
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland is calling for the introduction of a fair and pragmatic regularisation scheme which would allow undocumented migrants to apply for permission to get back into the system.
MRCI spokesperson Helen Lowry stated, “This group represents the second generation of undocumented people in Ireland. We’ve been campaigning for a pragmatic and fair solution for undocumented migrants for years now – just as the Irish government has campaigned for the undocumented in the US. These young people have a contribution to make; right now, we are squandering their talents. Their lives are here, their friends are here, and their futures should be here too. How long more must they wait?
MRCI research carried out with 540 undocumented migrants last year found that:
· 81% are here for over 5 years
· 1 in 5 are here for over 10 years
· 87% are working
· Top 5 nationalities: Filipino, Chinese, Mauritian, Brazilian and Pakistani
· 86.5% entered the country legally and subsequently became undocumented
Aoife Murphy, MRCI Communications 086 368 7901
Helen Lowry, MRCI 086 873 8366
The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland has developed a comprehensive proposal for a regularisation scheme which would allow undocumented migrants the chance to earn their way back into the system. The proposal is supported by a wide range of political organisations, charities, civil society groups, business groups and local authorities. For more information on the work of the MRCI please see http://www.mrci.ie/our-work/justice-for-undocumented/