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'His mind is blown': Family of Irishman facing deportation from US delighted he has been released from prison

Byrne was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on 10 July.

Keith Byrne with his family.
Keith Byrne with his family.
Image: GoFundMe

THE FAMILY OF Irishman Keith Byrne – who faces deportation from the US – have said that they are delighted that he has been released from prison, and that work will begin immediately to keep him in the country. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Jim Byrne – Keith’s father – said that he had been speaking to his son as he left the detention centre yesterday, who said “his mind was blown” that he had been released.

Byrne was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials on 10 July. 

The Fermoy-native and father-of-three runs a painting and decorating business in Pennsylvania, and was pulled over by officers on his way to work despite being a legal citizen.

He has attempted to secure his status in the US through appropriate legal routes since he has been living there, but a charge for possession of marijuana when he still lived in Ireland has meant he has failed to do so. 

Although his family always knew it was possible that his application could be denied to the point that he would have to go back to Ireland, his wife Keran told RTÉ earlier this month that it never occurred to her family that ICE would deport him.

Release

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime yesterday, Stephen Antwine, who is part of Byrne’s legal team, said that they have received an order granting his release for 30 days. 

Antwine said they filed an injunction request yesterday with the Middle District of Pennsylvania. He said the hearing took place yesterday and they received an order from a judge this morning granting their request. 

Speaking today, Keith’s father Jim – who lives in Ireland – said it had been an “awful fortnight” for the family. 

“Well I was talking to him when he was in the car on the way from the facility and his mind was blown he said he can’t understand it or believe it,” he said. 

To see his name come up on the phone when he called was fantastic as well. 

Melinda Byrne – Keith’s sister – said his next step would be to seek an extension to the 30 days for his release and prepare his case against deportation.  

Jim said he was hopeful his son would be allowed to remain in the US as he had never had a run in with law enforcement while in the country.

“It seems that if you’re in the states illegally the one things you cannot do is come in contact with the law,” he said. 

With reporting from Hayley Halpin and Stephen McDermott

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About the author:

Cormac Fitzgerald

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