A rather adorable short by Daphna Awadish featuring the words of immigrants who’ve left their home and crossed borders for love.
A cell in the women’s section of Mountjoy Prison
Chilean woman Estefany Carolina Alquinta Gonzalez (33),
who had been kept in solitary confinement for more than a week in the female section of Mountjoy Prison after immigration officials refused to allow her into the country, has been released.
— Courts News Ireland (@courtsnewsIRL) July 14, 2020
…The State did not contest an inquiry into the legality of the detention of Estefany Carolina Alquinta Gonzalez, who came to Ireland earlier this month to start a six month course with a Dublin-based language school to study English.
However, when she arrived at Dublin Airport on 2 July she was detained by immigration officials and was denied entry on the grounds that she represented a real and immediate threat to the fundamental policy interests of the State….which she denied…
…Before arriving in Ireland Ms Gonzalez said an official in that department said she would be allowed enter Ireland in order to complete her course, even though her courses were to be delivered online, as long as her travel documents were in order.
…She claimed that she was informed that she could not enter as a tourist as she wanted to come into Ireland as a student…immigration officials denied her permission to enter the state, arrested and detained her….
From top: Protest outside Leinster House earlier this month calling for the end of Direct Provision; Imran Khurshid
As the new government is formed, we all have an opportunity to set forth; what matters to us, what kind of society we are and above all ask, do we treat others equally.
Ireland has a troubled history with its own identity for generations. There’s no denying that. The cultural divisions from the civil war are only now perhaps being laid to rest with this new government. The national division of families who prefer rugby over GAA (and vice versa) is potentially ending as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil enter a coalition government.
What was once thought of as unthinkable, has now changed and ‘changed utterly’. Indeed, change has to be accepted before you can change anything else. That’s life and well… politics.
One aspect of Irish life that can and must change, is our immigration policy. It’s wasteful and at times, unjust. I’d like to address a few issues we can and should change in the near future.
Across Ireland, there are approximately 47 ‘Direct Provision’ (DP) centres to house and feed over 7,000 who seek international protection within Ireland.
Adults and children within them get a state allowance of €38.80 and €29.80, respectively, a week along with medical care. As well as those in ‘DP’ there are over 1,600 in emergency accommodation. It’s expensive.
Hotels, B&Bs are all included in the bill which cost €129.4 million last year. Even then the total costs of providing legal and other state supports must be quite high on top of that.
That said, for those in need and considering the wider problems of affordable accommodation, it does have its advantages as a stop gap for those awaiting their decision. The problem is that applicants are caught within the system for years unable to progress in their lives as a result of this system.
While only recently the Supreme Court did decide that those in direct provision could work after waiting for nine months if they hadn’t received a decision on their asylum application, albeit in a highly restricted manner designed to limit employment opportunities.
One of the positive takeaways from the Covid crisis is that the former government sought recommendations from the former secretary general of the European Commission, Dr. Catherine Day.
She proposed extending the right to work, reducing the application process times, a move to alternative housing and funding models among many other potential changes. Proposals no doubt welcomed by so many caught within the system.
Sadly during the past while, most of the conversation in the media was taken up by a substandard Kerry DP centre becoming a cluster of Covid cases.
Unfortunately, the former Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar merely conceded that there was some substandard accommodation within DP centres during a recent Dáil debate about the matter.
Now, let’s change that conversation.
At the heart of it all, let’s think long term about this. Let’s ask, what do we want as a country? Do we want genuine integration and diversity within Irish society to strength it with a sense of empathy versus sowing the seeds of division and nativism?
Is it fair for the Irish Government to lobby for Irish immigration reform in the USA while millions of other nationals there would become ‘others’ in the political conversation about immigration policy?
If Ireland adopts alternatives to the current system and work proactively at integration efforts from day one, we would reduce the overall cost of the system and create opportunities for applicants to share their skills and expertise within our economy.
While the current accommodation crisis means it would be unfeasible to end DP immediately, there is a lot we could do.
For instance, compulsory language and culture classes within DP centres, the right to work from the date of application, registration with relevant authorities for employment and volunteer opportunities can and, in my opinion, should be done. In many other countries similar programmes take place and it is time we accept that we can learn from such expertise.
As our offices, bars, hotels and restaurants slowly reopen as we enter Phase 3 of our reopening plan, we must consider the wide variety of workers who depend on our work permit system. There are two procedures, the work permit application and the visa application on top of it, if you are so required.
A work permit begins with an application to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) which requires a number of application documents. If they’re successful, they then apply for a work visa if so required by their nationality. A work permit alone may cost an employee a non-refundable €1,000.
Though if a work visa application from the Department of Justice and Equality gets denied: they are caught short. Often in my legal practice, assisting clients in such cases they are repeatedly informed that their employer’s reference letter is not sufficient on the basis of the quality of the paper or that the use of a Hotmail or Yahoo email account for the business are not accepted.
Not all businesses have the capacity or time to set up their own email domain and it is frankly ridiculous to have physical paper quality determine if a willing and capable worker is denied the opportunity to contribute to Ireland’s economy.
If the DBEI accepts employment and supporting documents, why can’t Justice do the same? Are there no interdepartmental guidelines on such matters?
From my experience dealing with a diverse range of clients, I believe there are none. To change it, I suggest that one department carries out the full checks and a subsequent department is not able to object to them.
This would save applicants their fee and the considerable resources used by the state in this convoluted system. Consistency and the rigours of fairness must apply to all applicants under the law.
Naturalisation is the process of becoming an Irish citizen after fulfilling the legal criteria. Recently, there was a change to the system and applicants no longer have to wait years for their decision.
Yet in my experience, while most applicants only need few months to hear the result of their application decision, some wait years. That’s outright unfair and unjust.
Occasionally these delays result in Judicial Review proceedings, which are challenges on the delay or process that the applicant has endured. Court orders to command the Minister of the day to make decisions in these matters, happen. However, like many other aspects of Ireland’s immigration policy in practice, it is extremely costly on everyone.
Applicants have to ‘take it on the chin’ that for years their lives, will be in limbo. This has profound financial, social and mental health impacts on applicants. For most, it means their families remain divided as the onerous financial criteria on applicants stay until they become citizens.
As the world economy adapts to many international changes after the Covid crisis, we should take stock of how we accept others in Irish society with these potential changes.
After all, we are changing our government, so let’s change this too.
Imran Khurshid is a solicitor practicing in the area of immigration law. He contested the local elections for Fianna Fáil in Dublin’s north inner city in 2019.
In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2020
The move effectively achieves a long-term Trump policy goal to curb immigration, making use of the health and economic crisis that has swept the country as a result of the pandemic to do so.
The decision drew swift condemnation from some Democrats, who accused the president of creating a distraction from what they view as a slow and faulty response to the coronavirus.
Trump said he was taking the action to protect the U.S. workforce. Millions of Americans are suffering unemployment after companies shed employees amid nationwide lockdowns to stop the contagion.
“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States,” Trump said in a tweet.
The White House declined to offer further details about the reasoning behind the decision, its timing, or its legal basis.
Dr Jessamyn Fairfield
Dr Jessamyn Fairfield is a lecturer in the School of Physics in NUI Galway director and compere of Bright Club in Ireland, the co-organiser of Soapbox Science Galway, and an established improviser and comedian.
Dr Fairfield writes:
I’m a physicist and a science communicator, and I’ve had a lot of unique experiences in my life as a result of those passions.
But I never expected to be detained at UK border control for three hours, and eventually denied entry and sent back to Ireland, just for doing science communication.
You see, although I have lived and worked in Ireland for the past six years, I have an American passport and no special privileges in any other part of Europe.
And I have been all over Europe as part of my job in Ireland: to attend research conferences, be hosted as a visiting researcher in another lab, speak on panels, and give public lectures and science comedy performances as to engage the public with science.
I came to Europe as a postdoctoral researcher and am now a lecturer at NUI Galway, running my own research lab and a plethora of public engagement events.
Mobility is a critical issue for physicists. We may need to travel for a conference, to visit collaborators, or even to move abroad to start a new career stage
But when I showed up in Cardiff to do a science comedy show as part of a festival, I was stopped at the border. I was not going to be paid for my performance, and had paid for my own travel out of pocket.
However the border agents considered the festival ticket and parking pass that I had received (for an event I was to speak at) as a form of payment in kind.
This is equivalent to saying that invited speakers at a conference are paid if their conference registration is covered, and nothing I (or the festival organisers who were phoned) could say convinced them otherwise.
Throughout this process I was left alone for long stretches, told not to use my phone, and all my travel documents (from both the US and Ireland) were taken off me. It’s a process that is designed to make you feel powerless, and it works. Finally I was fingerprinted and photographed, served with refusal paperwork, and sent back to Ireland.
There is now a black mark in my passport indicating I was refused entry to the UK.
This is especially ironic given my next planned trip to the UK will be to collect the IOP’s Mary Somerville Prize – a significant public engagement award that I am honoured to receive for my efforts to communicate science to the public.
And yet apparently I am not allowed to do public engagement activities, not just for free but at my own expense, in the UK.
Mobility is a critical issue for physicists. We may need to travel for a conference, to visit collaborators, or even to move abroad to start a new career stage.
Recent political developments such as Brexit and the travel ban in the US have been rightly criticised by researchers around the world for failing to account for how necessary the free movement of people is to science today.
Early-career researchers who can’t obtain travel visas easily are at a heavy career disadvantage. This is why mobility was a core issue of the recent March for Science.
To me, this is also indicative of how toxic our conversations about immigration in general have become. The border patrol officers I dealt with were as kind as they could be to me, but they were tasked with enforcing a system where all immigration is considered negative. Never mind that immigrants are often young, hard-working, and full of ambition.
Never mind that immigrants drive social change, spark innovation, bring new perspectives, and in fact draw less on social safety nets than citizens do (both because of their demographics and often because they aren’t allowed to).
Never mind that in science, many researchers move internationally, often multiple times, and in fact a huge number of Nobel Laureates are immigrants themselves.
The narrative we hear about immigration often seems to have a Schrödinger’s Cat quality to it: immigrants as lazy welfare cheats, who are also stealing our jobs.
We should respect just how much immigrants contribute, scientifically and otherwise, to the countries they have chosen to call home.
I hate that this disrespect starts at a very early stage: the recent story of the Afghan girls’ robotics team who were initially denied entry to the US for a robotics competition is heartbreaking. I was glad to see the decision reversed, as setbacks to girls in science and engineering are plentiful enough already.
I’m an immigrant, a physicist, and a science communicator, and I’m working hard to make the world a better place. Ireland has been welcoming, for me at least, so I’m doing a lot of that work here.
But if other countries want talented young people to come enrich their societies, they should actually make that possible. Otherwise we’ll go somewhere else.
Thanks Neil Curran
In 1962, this Irish man was asked about immigration. 55 years later, we all need to hear his answer. pic.twitter.com/Bhx6wLQiy8
— Barry McColgan (@BarryMcColgan) August 14, 2017
In 1962, this Irish man was asked about immigration. 55 years later, we all need to hear his answer. pic.twitter.com/Bhx6wLQiy8
— Barry McColgan (@BarryMcColgan) August 14, 2017
Paloma Aparecida Carvalho
A petition has been launched urging the Minister of Justice to apologise to Brazilian Au Pair Paloma Aparecida Carvalho who was treated “like a criminal” on a recent visit to Ireland.
Paloma was strip-searched and jailed despite arriving in Dublin Airport with return ticket, accommodation, money and permission to remain in Ireland for up to 90 days.
Judith Goldberger writes:
Obliged if you could help raise awareness of the case of Paloma Aparecida Silva Carvalho and how she was treated at Dublin Airport.
This lady should not only be apologised to, but she should be flown back to Ireland on the Govt Jet and all expenses paid for. They can have my water charges refund to help.
Of course, we know who runs immigration at the Airport: the Gardai. Yet again, questions have to be asked… is there no end.
The Migrant Rights Centre surveyed 540 undocumented migrants in Ireland for the first research of its kind.
The survey found:
– 81% have been here for 5 years or more
– 21% have been here for 10 years or more
– 87% are working
– 44% are parents
– 53% have 3rd-level education
– people of 29 different nationalities were surveyed, but the top 5 were Filipino, Chinese, Mauritian, Brazilian and Pakistani.
– 86.5% entered the country legally and subsequently became undocumented
The research also estimates that “there are between 20,000-26,000 undocumented migrants in Ireland at the moment – including thousands of children”.
Senator Tom Sheahan (Fine Gael) voiced his fears over Ireland’s immigration policy in the Seanad this morning and said:
“…where we could have serious problems. What I hope to happen in this improvement in our financial circumstances is that our people will come home from Australia, America and Canada etc and they will benefit.What I’m fearful of is, there’s nothing there presently to stop 40 or 50,000 of our European neighbours to come into the country and benefiting from this upward curve in our financial status. The European law is what needs to be tackled here….I believe we need control, we even need to be selfish, we even need to be selfish…I also believe that we don’t have the capacity in our education system, in our health system or we don’t have the housing…Maybe my thought structure or maybe my approach is very simplistic but I do believe that self-preservation is needed here.”
We’ll fight them on the beaches.
Bloody foreigners coming over here and dying in our maternity hospitals.
Previously: We Like This Guy
Burgh Quay, Dublin
Applicants waiting to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau.
“According to GNIB staff this has been going on for a few weeks now (peak student registration time) and they say that people are queuing from 3am (!) in order to get in line for a ticket (of which there are only 200 per day). Then they usually have to wait the entire day again in order to be seen. Apparently (and this bit is just second hand) the GNIB are refusing to introduce any kind of appointment system this year…”