Both the Minister and the Taoiseach yesterday responded to our Deportation Moratorium (COVID-19) Bill 2020 by announcing a "stay" on deportations during the public health emergency except in circumstances such as "a threat to national security". They have also committed to pause and review issuing deportation orders at this time.
Myself, Senator Lynn Ruane, Senator Frances Black and Senator Eileen Flynn introduced the Bill because 469 deportation letters have been issued since March, causing alarm and distress not only to the individuals who receive them but also to their communities, friends and colleagues.
While the Government would not formally accept our legal prohibition, the shift in policy they have offered is very welcome. We will be following up to ensure that this assurance genuinely reaches the cases already affected and engage with the Minister around the potential revoking of some of the orders.
The UN Network on Migration has called on all countries to "suspend forced returns during the pandemic in order to protect the health of migrants and communities and uphold human rights" they noted that "forced returns can intensify the public health risk for everyone".