The series of measures to protect illegal immigrants from deportation due to be signed into law by US President Barack Obama has been welcomed by SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey.
Mr Ramsey raised the issue of the undocumented Irish with senior officials in the State Department when he visited the US last March.
He said: “I made the point that many Irish people had lived and worked in the US, contributed to the economic, social and cultural life of their communities, but still lived in fear of deportation.
“I also raised the issue of undocumented Irish immigrants not being able to travel home for family emergencies or bereavements which placed undue distress on other family members.
“I am pleased to see that these series of measures at least address some of these issues with plans to offer work permits; permission to leave and re-enter to be given in cases of hardship; and forced deportation only happening upon conviction of serious crime rather an following an arrest for a minor crime.”
Mr Ramsey concluded: “I am hopeful that these measures will benefit thousands of undocumented Irish people. I know it is not everything that lobby groups were hoping for but it is a welcome move that is a step in the right direction.”