The tightening of immigration procedures in the wake of 9/11 has resulted in many not wanting to take the chance of a visit home to Ireland that could all too easily turn into a one-way journey.
The story is much the same from city to city though the exact circumstances vary. In many cases, however, there are reasons for traveling other than Christmas and New Year celebrations. This is the time of year when family circumstances tend to loom larger, for good or ill.
So enforced absence is felt all the more.
Karen (names have been changed in this report at the request of those interviewed) from County Tyrone lives and works two jobs in Philadelphia. She doesn’t have a lot of free time and has certainly earned a few days back in Ireland with her family. It’s not going to happen.
“It’s not an easy decision to make. But you do know what you have to leave behind when you decide to come over here,” she said.
Romance recently entered Karen’s life in a big way. She became engaged to another Irish immigrant. He, too, is undocumented.
She has not met her fianc