The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) has published research indicating that up to 3,000 undocumented children are living in the State. Of those, the centre says that almost 70% were born in Ireland.
The first survey of its kind in Ireland was carried out with 108 parents of undocumented children. The centre says that it profiles an often-ignored group living in communities up and down the country.
Of the 185 children whose parents completed the survey, 68% were born in Ireland and 32% were born outside of Ireland.
School of hard knocks
The average length of time spent so far in school in Ireland is five years, but 8% have spent more than ten years in school in Ireland.
Of those born in Ireland, 58% are over five years old and 20% are over ten years old.
Of those born outside Ireland, 78% have lived here for over five years – with some living in Ireland for more than 16 years.
MRCI youth worker Mairéad McDevitt said: “The survey results confirm that undocumented children and young people are here long term, spending their formative years in Ireland and being educated in our primary and secondary schools.
“Ireland is the home they know and love. These children and young people need stability, security, and hope for the future. If there was a line they could join, they’d join it. If there was a form to fill out, they’d do it. The Government needs to end this legal limbo and create a pathway to papers for these children and young people – and it needs to do it now.”
Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance (pictured), said: “When you’re an undocumented young person, you can’t fulfil your potential. Every part of your life is impacted, including your education, future career, and your ability to take part in your community.
“Three years ago, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child highlighted this issue and urged Ireland to introduce clear and accessible pathways to immigration status for these children; action is now urgently required. These children need those solutions so that they can get on with living the full lives that they deserve.”