An interesting article in the Washington Post, on the numbers of illegal Irish immigrants in the US who are returning, or have already returned to Ireland as the US tightens its immigration procedures post-September 11. Estimates mostly, including a figure attributed to the Irish Government of 14,000 returning to Ireland since 2001, while the US government census figures quoted in the article indicate the official Irish population in the US dropping by 28,500 between 2000 and 2004.From the Washington Post –
Last month, the Irish minister for social affairs visited New York, to unveil “Returning to Ireland,” a guide for Irish preparing for a permanent return trip.
“A travel agent was saying they had sold 1,700 one-way tickets to Ireland,” said Geraldine McNabb, an Irish-born naturalized citizen, while she sipped a cranberry cocktail at a pub. “They’re not coming back.”
Post-Sept. 11 security procedures have disrupted life for the city’s undocumented Irish, who number about 20,000, according to estimates by Irish officials and activists. Few experience immigration raids in their homes and job sites. In 2005 just 43 Irish nationals were deported from the United States, none from the New York area, according to U.S. immigration officials.
But federal and state policy changes, the fingerprinting of foreign nationals at airports and a crackdown on driver’s licenses have made it much more difficult to hop a plane to visit relatives or drive a car. And tighter scrutiny of banking transactions to prevent the financing of terrorism has scared off families and made starting a business far more dicey.
That returning tide is likely to continue.. as long as the optimism about the Irish economy continues.