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'A hard-working family man': Irish father-of-three facing deportation after decade seeking US residency

Fermoy native Keith Byrne was detained on Wednesday.

Keith Byrne with his wife Keren
Keith Byrne with his wife Keren
Image: GoFundMe

AN IRISHMAN WHO’S lived in the US for over 10 years is facing deportation after he was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers earlier this week.

Fermoy-native and father-of-three Keith Byrne (37) runs a painting and decorating business and was pulled over by officers on his way to work. 

He’s married to US citizen Keren almost 10 years and efforts are under way to try to allow him to remain in the country at their home in Pennsylvania. 

A GoFundMe page has – at the time of writing – raised almost €15,000 to support Keith, Keren and their family. 

Keren told The Irish Times that their kids are “sad and confused”. “They miss their dad,” she added. “They are asking me why he can’t come home.”

The couple bought their first home earlier this year, and Keren said they’d no idea that he was soon to be arrested. 

For the last decade, Keith Byrne has attempted to secure his status in America through the appropriate legal routes, but a charge for possession of marijuana when he still lived in Ireland has meant he has failed to secure status to remain. 

The GoFundMe, set up by relative Jeff Snader, describes Byrne as a “dedicated member of society, a tax paying entrepreneur, a loving father and stepfather of three children, a man of the household who cares deeply for his wife and a patriot of the United States of America”. 

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Cork East TD Sean Sherlock, from the constituency Byrne is originally from, says it is now vital this case is raised “at the highest political level to seek to have him released on humanitarian grounds”. 

“Keith Byrne is a hard-working family man who was going about his daily business when he was lifted,” the Labour TD said.

His case highlights the precariousness of Irish people who have settled in the US, who have no legal status but who are contributing to society. He poses no threat to anyone.

A spokesperson for ICE told TheJournal.ie: “In 2007, Keith Byrne, 37, a citizen of Ireland, entered the United States as a nonimmigrant under the Visa Waiver Program and failed to depart the United States under the terms of his admission.

“ICE arrested him 10 July for immigration violations and issued him a visa waiver removal order. He is currently in ICE custody pending removal.”

About the author:

Sean Murray

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