Activists Demand Immigration Reform

All political parties should commit to a radical reform of the way migrants are dealt with and supported, campaigners said today. In an election manifesto, the Immigrant Council of Ireland said a new ministerial post should be created with total control of immigration issues.

And the influential group said reforms should also include education, research and bring greater efficiency, transparency and accountability to administration.

Denise Charlton, chief executive of the council, said immigration and integration will be key issues in the election.

“It is crucial that current and future governments develop comprehensive, coherent and transparent policies on immigration and integration issues,” she said.

“Furthermore, any planning and development on the issues must be long term and take place in the context of other social, infrastructural and economic planning.”

The council said reform was needed to bring a greater focus on integration and for more clarity on migrants’ rights and entitlements.

Sr Stanislaus Kennedy said the council had been pushing for more co-ordination between government departments for some time.

“In order to further the debate on the proposal for a cross-departmental structure led by a Minister, the ICI will be holding a roundtable discussion on the issue in early April with government and opposition politicians who have expressed an interest in the issue as well as relevant civil servants and NGOs,”

Sr Kennedy said. “A discussion document will be presented at the event, which looks at models of good practice currently operating in other countries that Ireland could learn from in developing such a structure.”

Designed to advise, influence and direct the next government, the Immigrant Council of Ireland identified several areas of reform to improve life for migrants.

  • Create a cross-departmental structure led by a Minister responsible for immigration and integration, along the lines of the Office of the Minister for Children.

  • Comprehensive data on migration to Ireland should be gathered and made publicly available annually.

  • The link between immigration and integration policies needs to be recognised, and the barriers that legal restraints, such as lack of access to permanency, family reunification and employment places on integration needs to be recognised and overcome.

  • Clarification of the rights and entitlements migrants have.

  • An organised, efficient, transparent and accountable administration should be set up for migrants to get visas.

  • The education system needs overhauled including the charging of fees for non-EU tuition in college, language support, review the curriculum to reflect Ireland’s diversity and training teachers on issues such as diversity and anti-racism.

  • Set up ’pathway programmes’ to give migrants the skills to get work.