President Michael D Higgins has said he is constantly raising the issue of the undocumented Irish in the United States.

The President was speaking to a group of Irish people in San Francisco, where he also said that the found the notion of retirement "ridiculous".

About 140 Irish and Irish Americans attended a special senior citizens’ brunch at the United Irish Cultural Centre in San Francisco.

President Higgins spoke of what he described as the "different waves of the undocumented".

He said he knew the issue of those Irish who are in the US illegally was of great concern to those gathered and said he wanted to assure them that in his "conversation with government" and with "others", it was an issue that "will never be left aside".

He said people were "working very hard, contributing to the economy" but were "suffering" because they could not "resume the important links through the chain of life" such as births, deaths and celebrations, because of the circumstances in which they found themselves.

He said it was not just "hopes and prayers" that immigration reform would take place, but rather it was a "practical agenda of work" from the Irish Government, Embassy in Washington and Consulate in San Francisco.

Addressing the group of senior citizens, he said the word "retirement" was "ridiculous", adding that he did not like it, perhaps hinting at his own plans to possibly consider seeking a second term in office when the current one expires in 2018.

There has been much speculation about whether he would seek a second term then.

President Higgins said that people "should be open to experience" until they drew their last breath.

He continued to say that it was "a ridiculous assumption to say that there is any one period of life where you can innovate or be creative. You can be creative right up to the end."

President Michael D Higgins is in San Francisco for the second leg of his eight day trip to the West Coast of the United States.