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Irishman facing deportation from US to be released from detention for 30 days, legal team says

Keith Byrne was detained by customs officials on 10 July.

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

IRISHMAN KEITH BYRNE, who has lived in the US for over ten years but is now facing deportation, is to be released from detention for 30 days, a member of his legal team has said. 

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.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime this evening, 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. 

“So at this point, we have an order granting Keith released for 30 days. And essentially, during that 30 days the case is going to be moved to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, at which time ICE and the federal government can argue, argue what they’d like,” Antwine said. 

“But we are essentially arguing that Keith green card application was not properly adjudicated. And so we’ll be making that argument in front of the judges of the Eastern District,” he said. 

Antwine said that during the 30 days of his release, Byrne’s team plan to file another injunction with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 

“We’re going to essentially be requesting that same … release, that is his continued release from prison and it continued stay of removal until the Eastern District can decide the case, the actual immigration case, on the merits,” Antwine said. 

Also speaking to Drivetime, Byrne’s brother Greg said his family are delighted with today’s news. 

‘I know Keith is as well, I spoke to him earlier, he doesn’t believe it,” he said. 

Keran rang him and basically told him he was going to be released … he’s blown away.

 Of seeing his kids again who he hasn’t seen in three weeks, Greg Byrne said that his brother is ”actually nervous about going to meet them, he can’t wait – the whole family are overjoyed”.

Antwine spoke of it taking between three to eight months to hear the case on the merits, to adjudicate his green card application.

A GoFundMe page has – at the time of writing – raised more than €28,000 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  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 July 10 for immigration violations and issued him a visa waiver removal order. In accordance with the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania temporary injunction, ICE will release Mr. Byrne from custody pending immigration proceedings.”

With reporting by Stephen McDermott

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