Category: Archive

Homeland for the holidays

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Those who take a chance on flying back to Ireland for Christmas were being advised this week to make sure a friend can wrap up their American affairs if they are not able to get back.
The undocumented have been wrestling in recent weeks with a decision that looms largest at this time of year: Should they hunker down in the U.S. for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays? Or should they take a chance with U.S. immigration authorities and fly back to Ireland, all the while hoping to get back into the U.S. at the end of their few days with family and friends?
Siobhan Dennehy, executive director of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York, said that relatively few immigrants who had contacted the center were planning on taking a chance this year with a flight back to Ireland.
“Those that really want to make a go of it here are hunkering down and staying put,” Dennehy said.
“At the same time the worries over being able to get back into the U.S. are prompting others to decide that this is the time to quit America altogether and move back to Ireland.
“People are really looking at their lives and situations. And this is always the time of year for making big decisions.”
Behind these two polar opposites, a smaller group of undocumented is opting for a trans-Atlantic flight and all the uncertainty that such a move entails.
“If they do decide to fly back, we have been advising them to have a good friend here ready to pack up in the event that they don’t get back into the U.S.,” Dennehy said.
“People are really weighing their options carefully. While they were very comfortable with the idea of flying home for Christmas in the years before Sept. 11, that has now changed. Now it’s a matter of having to decide which is really more important to them, life in America or a visit home.”
Tom Conaghan of the Irish Immigration and Pastoral Center in Philadelphia said he had noticed a drop in the level of anxiety felt by people contacting the center this year.
Conaghan said he believed this was a result of many undocumented immigrants making a firm decision on travel well before the holiday.
Sheila Gleeson of the Irish Immigration Center in Boston agreed, saying that most were opting for a Christmas in New England rather than Ireland.

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