By Ann Marie Foley - 02 January, 2015
Immigration reforms are needed to help individuals and families out of ‘limbo’ according to the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI).
Figures in the ICI’s End of Year Statement show that the failure to introduce a clear, modern and fair immigration service is impacting on individuals and families on a daily basis.
“Citizenship and family rights issues remain the basis for most queries to our help lines; it is particularly disturbing to see how a lack of clear procedures and guidelines as well as an independent appeals mechanism leaves many families vulnerable to being torn apart,” said Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of the ICI.
As an independent law centre, the ICI represented and helped 60 migrants on a range of issues such reuniting families, recognition of stateless persons, and protection of EU rights.
The Council’s frontline services responded to over 5,000 calls for help during 2014, including people caught in the immigration system, victims of racism and women sex-trafficked into prostitution.
Sex-trafficking is the fastest growing crime in recent times and through 2014 the ICI supported 19 victims.
It secured improved protections and supports in nine cases, while the remainder are pending.
“Political leadership is now needed to ensure laws which will target demand for this crime are introduced in the months ahead,” said Denise Charlton.
The ICI’s anti-racism service recorded a 51% increase during the 12-months with 217 incidents reported.
“The task now is to study these figures and see what political and policy changes can be achieved in 2015,” concluded Denise Charlton.
“The Immigrant Council of Ireland has been working in this area for 13 years – it is clear as we enter 2015 that there is still a lot of work to do to meet the needs of migrants, Irish citizens and our country as a whole.”
ICI identified some key goals for the year ahead including:
• Working towards more streamlined and fair immigration services, including access for people to an independent appeals mechanism similar to the Ombudsman
• The introduction of sex-buyer laws to wreck the business model for pimps and traffickers
• Detailed examination of hate crime legislation to establish why it is not working