Taoiseach to raise immigration reform with Obama

Mary Regan, Deputy Political Editor, Washington DC

Irish people have "disproportionately" low acess to US citizenship, compared to other countries, according to the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

Speaking in Washington ahead of his meeting today with Barack Obama at the White House, he said this is one of the issues he intends to raise with the US President.

In an address to the American Ireland Fund Gala last night, Mr Kenny acknowledged that immigration reform is a "politically sensitive issue."

But he told an audience of 800 people - which included US Vice President, Joe Biden - that: "If the world needs a vibrant, growing US economy to continue to lead the way in the twenty-first century, then then the US needs immigrants."

Mr Kenny said all of the independent surveys show that immigration reform "will unlock growth and job creation". And, he said, "on the personal level it will help so many Irish immigrants forced to live in the shadows."

"They have waited too long for their situations and those of the other 11 million undocumented to be resolved," he said.

Earlier he told reporters that the issue will be top of the agenda when he meets Mr Obama in the Oval Office as part of the St Patrick's Day celebrations.

"I'll point out that Ireland has disproportionately very few acesses to citizenship in the States and given our links over a number of centuries this sould be far easier to achieve," he said.

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