Conor, Jacinta and baby Lily who took part in the RTE programme The Undocumented
A couple with close links to Nenagh were among those featured on a TV documentary screened this Monday about the undocumented Irish in the US.
The family were identified by their first names only - Conor, Jacinta and their baby Lily.
The hour-long documentary, The Undocumented, was shown on RTE1 television.
In the programme, Conor spoke of the advantages and disadvantages - from the sense of community to the lows of Lily not being able to see her grandfathers.
“Lily is the first grandchild on either side but she has never met her grandfather on either side. Home is only seven hours away but it feels much further sometimes,” he said poignantly.
Conor revealed that when he and Jacinta discovered that they were expecting a baby in February 2016, “it was unexpected but great”.
However, they thought they could never have the baby in America, because it would cost thousands and thousands.
“One day we were talking to one of the doctors and she said that not only would it not cost us a penny but she would be born a US citizen. We could stay here until the baby was born and go home then,” he said.
Conor spoke how this had opened up a world of opportunity for Lily now because she can have dual citizenship. She can work anywhere in the US and European Union because Ireland is part of the European Union.
Conor first came to the US for a summer when he was in college with a group of lads.
“When I went home I just thought I want to be back there. There is a real community over here and they will do anything for you to help you get a job and an apartment and they wouldn't do that back home,” he said.
When he returned, the plan was to come out and make as much money as they could and go home as millionaires and start their own business.
“We were always going home and I always said at the start, would I be able to adapt to working for €10 or €11 per hour. We are going home to family - that's the main thing. Of course I am nervous about it, just like I was coming over. But, we'll take the chance and see how it works,” he said.
However, the reality is that when they do come home, Conor will be barred from the States for 10 years.
“When I go home, because I have overstayed, I won't be able to come back for 10 years. I won't be the first person that this has happened to but that's the reality,” he said.
He had words of advice for anyone thinking of taking the chance and overstaying visa: “You have to careful about who you talk to, because you don't know if they are a customs official or just someone who is being nosy.
“There are two rules: you stay out of trouble and out of the hospitals. If you cause trouble they will send you home and if you go to the hospitals, you won't be able to pay the bills. You behave yourself and work hard. You can still pay your bills and taxes and enjoy life.
“My advice would be to come here until you are 26 and learn all you can in the bars, then come home again.”
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