Members of the Irish diaspora have been honoured at Áras an Uachtaráin for their contributions to Ireland and Irish communities abroad.
Among the recipients of Presidential Distinguished Service Awards was Jackie Donohue, whose daughter Ashley died in the Berkeley tragedy in California four years ago.
Six students were killed and seven injured when an apartment balcony collapsed in Berkeley in June 2015.
The tragedy spurred Jackie Donohoe on to lobby for a change in building regulations in California.
Awards were also presented to the diaspora for their work in charity, science and business.
Author Ian Gibson, who has lived in Spain for many years, was honoured for his contribution to the arts
Speaking at the event, President Higgins said that migration has always been part of Irish life.
He spoke of how people coming to Ireland should be welcomed.
"The moral question of how we treat 'the other', 'the stranger', as arrival on our shores or minority within our community, must also be a central concern for all sections of society.
"Indeed, as a nation that has seen ten million Irish men, women and children leave Ireland since the 1700s, we more than most should be deeply aware of our moral obligation to welcome those fleeing poverty, famine, persecution, war or natural disaster."