Give equal access to citizenship to all children
End the attacks on migrant communities’ rights
End deportations of children, end direct provision
Solidarity will move the Irish Nationality and Citizenship (Restoration of Birthright Citizenship) Bill 2017 at Second Stage in the Dáil on Thursday, 17th January 2019. The provisions of the Bill would restore the eligibility of all persons born in the island of Ireland for Irish citizenship. If enacted, the Bill would undo the Trump-style citizenship laws introduced in 2004 that targeted asylum seekers in particular, and excluded them from citizenship.
At a press conference to launch the Bill today, Paul Murphy, Solidarity TD for Dublin South West, commented:
“All children should have equal access to citizenship rights regardless of their background. The removal of birthright citizenship in the law from 2005 was aimed at some of the most vulnerable children in the country living in direct provision. The target of the FF/PD government, with the support of Fine Gael, was children of those seeking asylum, and newcomers to the country. During the debates on this change they held up migrants as the cause of the crisis in the health service to deflect from their own under funding and privatisation of public services.
“Globally we have seen an attack on the citizenship rights of migrants. The divisive rhetoric seen in 2004 is of course now a core part of Donald Trump’s politics. He wishes to end birthright citizenship with many Irish politicians, rightly, opposed to this given the impact it would have on the undocumented Irish community there. However, at home the Irish government implements and defends a citizenship law President Trump would love to have.
“In the past 14 years there have been cases of children who were born here being issued with deportation orders. Most recently, the case of Eric Zhi Ying Xue (9) outraged an entire community in Bray when he was issued with a deportation order to a country he was never in. At the time the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said that Eric is Irish and has the same basis of being in the Wicklow community as he did. Our Bill now gives Minister Harris the opportunity to end any further cases of Irish-born children being deported.
“Not having citizenship places these young people whose home is Ireland in a particularly vulnerable and precarious position. The ability to afford third level education, the right to work and the right to vote are all affected by having citizenship rights. There should now be a restoration of birthright citizenship so that we do not have the scandal in the immediate future of Irish-born people being unable to attend college, work or vote.
“Faced with the inhumane reality which results from the current situation, public opinion is clearly overwhelmingly in favour of a change. In November a B&A/Sunday Times opinion poll indicated that 71% wish to see a citizenship being granted to all children regardless of their parents’ status.
“There are an estimated 2,000-5,000 undocumented children living in Ireland. Our Bill would give citizenship to those who are born here, and we are also in favour of granting citizenship to those who came to Ireland as children, known as “Dreamers” in the USA. Should our Bill pass second stage, we will work with activists, communities, and organisations to propose citizenship rights for those who came here as children.”
Gino Kenny, People Before Profit TD for Dublin Mid-West said: “One hundred years after the first Dáil said that all children in the nation should be cherished equally it is totally inhumane that people born in this country and going to school in this country are being treated differently than the people that they live beside. The fact that the government are stalling over this, calls into question their commitment to equality. Passing of this legislation would be a major step forward after the marriage equality referendum and repeal of the 8th amendment. Passing this legislation is more important than ever given the rise of racist ideas that go along with Trump and the alt-right.”
Silibaziso Ndlovu (Tina) has been living in direct provision for the past three years. She has a child born in Ireland. As a result of the change in the law in 2004, he doesn’t have citizenship and lacks the associated rights. This came as a surprise to Tina. At the press conference, she said:
“I am first and foremost concerned about kids who face deportations. They are Irish in reality, they are even learning Irish in school, they have adjusted to Irish culture. However, they are denied Irish citizenship.
“How are children going to adjust when deported? What about language barriers? In my home country English is the fifth or sixth language. What about the cultural difficulties that come with deportation and being forced back to your parents country that you’ve never been in before?”
For further comment or information:
Paul Murphy: 086 1688050
Shane Finnan (Solidarity Press Officer): 086 263 9403
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