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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 11 May 2021

Wife of Irish man facing deportation from US says her husband is being given 'no choice' but to leave

Keith Byrne was detained by customs officials on 10 July.

Keith Byrne with his wife Kerin and their three children
Keith Byrne with his wife Kerin and their three children
Image: GoFundMe

THE WIFE OF an Irish man who has lived in the US for over ten years but is now facing deportation says her husband is being given “no choice” but to leave the country.

Keran Byrne, whose husband Keith was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials last week, believes that US officials are determined to deport him.

She also told Drivetime on RTÉ Radio 1 that her husband has been living “in a bubble” since he was detained on 10 July.

“The only information he gets is through an ICE officer, and their number one goal is to deport him,” she said.

“All of the information he gets from them is extremely one-sided and with the intent to get him to comply with the deportation.”

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, Keran told RTÉ that it never occurred to her family that ICE would deport him.

“He never was contacted by ICE before that moment,” she said. “Not through letter, not through phone. Nothing.”

Keran is currently attempting to have her husband’s case heard by a judge in the hope he can legally stay in the US, but she revealed that he only has until tomorrow to sign an application for a passport or he will face criminal prosecution.

If he signs an application, Keran says that ICE can apply for a passport and put him on a plane back to Ireland.

“He has to sign it legally, otherwise he can be charged criminally,” she said.

“It’s a criminal offence to not comply with deportation, so he’s basically left with no choice but to sign this application for a passport.”

A GoFundMe page has – at the time of writing – raised more than €24,000 to support Keith, Keren and their family.

The page, 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”. 

A spokesperson for ICE previously 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.”

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