Ireland’s prime minister has challenged President Donald Trump to address undocumented Irish immigrants differently than he has with those from Mexico and elsewhere around the world.
During the traditional meeting with Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny, the taoiseach (pronounced THEE-shakh—the traditional name of the Irish prime minister) explained what he believes is the true importance of St. Patrick, whom he called “the patron … of immigrants.” (St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. The actual patron saint of immigrants is St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.)
Irish PM tells Trump “St Patrick was patron saint of immigrants” this man is exceptional pic.twitter.com/15vkhd5uB8
— James Smart (@jamessmat) March 17, 2017
Kenny also asked Trump—who has long railed against illegal immigration in the United States and whose Justice Department is fighting legal challenges against an executive order that temporarily bars immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.—to turn a blind eye to the estimated 50,000 Irish who are in the U.S. illegally.
“There are millions out there who want to play their part for America—if you like, who want to make America great,” Kenny said, shooting Trump a look. “You heard that before?”
Kenny continued, saying his country “would like this to be sorted.”
“It would remove a burden of so many that they could now stand in the light and say, ‘Now I’m free to contribute to America as I know I can,’” he said. “That’s what people want.”
“All they want is the opportunity to be free,” Kenny added.
Kenny’s comments come as Ireland’s government considers a referendum that would allow citizens of the Republic of Ireland who live abroad to vote in Irish elections. If passed, it would raise the number of eligible voters from 4.4 million to as much as 70 million.
Watch the full press conference below: