Lack of clarity in immigration procedures must be clearer for migrant children
During 2017 the Immigrant Council of Ireland provided legal advice, including in some cases full legal representation in approximately 60 cases relating to children. These included refugees applying for family reunification, regularisation of immigration status and support to access their rights, including for example access to education.
Today as it launches its Impact Report 2017 the organisation calls on the Government to establish a specific agency or contact point to will take responsibility for providing information and legal advice on immigration to children and their supporters.
Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “We have so recently seen the compassion, strength and political conviction of young people in Ireland, mapping out the future they want to live in. One in eight of those young people are from a migrant background. It would be heart-breaking and a dereliction of duty if we did not ensure each and every one of them feels they belong and that Ireland wants them as much as they want Ireland.
“Hundreds of children growing up in Ireland today have known no other home and yet face diabolic struggles to gain a secure immigration status. In 2017 alone the [tiny team] Immigrant Council of Ireland provided legal advice in 60 separate cases involving children, including in 11 cases, full legal representation.
“It is imperative more accessible information, clearer routes through the immigration system and support for families and those assisting children are made available, ideally through a clearly signposted, single contact point. Too often we meet children and young people who only discover there is a problem with their immigration status when it is very late – as they apply to attend third level education or even when being invited on a school tour. The slow-moving cogs of our legal system are then leaving these impressive young people in legal limbo with their lives on hold for far too long.”
John Cunningham, outgoing Chair of the Immigrant Council of Ireland Board of Directors, said, “Throughout 2017 the Immigrant Council of Ireland answered more than 3,000 calls via its helpline, providing advice, support and in some instances full legal representation on a huge range of issues. More than a third of enquiries to our helpline relate to family reunification and it is great to see the Government’s current Irish Refugee Protection Programme Humanitarian Assistance Programme (IHAP) providing an opportunity for families from certain countries to be united.
“However alongside this strictly time-bound initiative, we would prefer to see more sustainable opportunities, as research shows time and time again that successful integration is more likely when families and loved ones are together, assimilating into new environments as a unit.”
Notes to editors
In addition to our helpline and Independent Law Centre, the Immigrant Council of Ireland undertakes substantial research, advocacy and activity in the areas of anti-trafficking, anti-racism and integration.
Please read our Impact Report 2017
Headline statistics from the Impact Report 2017
- 3,002 Helpline queries
- 35% Related to family reunification queries
- 128 Nationalities supported
- 144 Legal cases opened by our Independent Law Centre
- 60 Children given legal advice and/or full representation
- 25 Victims of trafficking given legal advice and/or representation
- >250 Migrants engaging with political participation training
Pippa Woolnough, Immigrant Council of Ireland, Tel: 085 8353757
About the Immigrant Council of Ireland:
The Immigrant Council of Ireland is the leading voice in securing improved rights and protections which benefit Irish citizens, migrants and their families. Founded by Sr Stanislaus Kennedy in 2001, the Immigrant Council of Ireland uses its frontline services to meet the immediate needs and counter the challenges faced by immigrants in Ireland. The organisation uses this experience to put forward clear, evidence based proposals to change Irish law. For more information, please visit www.immigrantcouncil.ie.
Our helpline is supported by the Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019