'He was always open and honest' - Family of Cork man facing deportation from US devastated

'He was always open and honest' - Family of Cork man facing deportation from US devastated
Keith Byrne with his wife Keren. Photo: GoFund Me.

The sister of an Irishman facing deportation from the US says his family is devastated by his arrest.

Keith Byrne, a married father of three originally from Cork, has lived in the US for 12 years and runs his own business.

Keith, who has been married to a US citizen for 10 years, was detained last week as he made his way to work near his home on the outskirts of Philadelphia.

The incident comes amid President Donald Trump’s latest crackdown on illegal immigrants in the US.

Keith, 37, from Fermoy in Co Cork, moved to the US in 2007. He married his wife Keren in 2009 and the couple have two children – Leona, 6, and Gabriel, 4. He is also stepfather to Mrs Byrne’s 13-year-old son Ezra, his family said.

He originally travelled to the US on the Visa Waiver Programme but did not leave when his permitted time in the country expired. He has been attempting to secure citizenship for around 10 years.

He is 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

It is understood those efforts have been complicated by two convictions related to cannabis possession when he was a younger man in Ireland, and he had been concerned about the prospect of deportation.

Keith, who has his own painting company, was on his way to work when he was arrested by officers from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday morning.

He is now facing deportation back to Ireland, potentially later this month.

A GoFundMepage set up by a cousin of the family, Jeff Snader, raised around $17,000 of a $50,000 target within 24 hours.

Mr Snader said: “In this great country we get a lot of things right. But there is nothing right with the deportation of Keith Byrne.

“He is 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.”

His family say he faces deportation after being denied a visa because of a minor drug possession charge from his time in Ireland.

Keith's sister Melinda says they are hoping US officials see sense and let him stay:

"He was always open and honest - he went to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) directly working with immigration authorities in 2010 to adjust his status.

"But unfortunately, his application and subsequent appeal have been denied," she added.

A spokesman for the ICE said: “In 2007, Keith Byrne, 37, a citizen of Ireland, entered the United States as a non-immigrant under the Visa Waiver Programme 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. He is currently in ICE custody pending removal.”

Additional reporting PA

More on this topic

Crackdown on undocumented/illegal migrants in the US could see Irish caught in crossfireCrackdown on undocumented/illegal migrants in the US could see Irish caught in crossfire

Hawaii activists protest over construction of giant telescopeHawaii activists protest over construction of giant telescope

Change for ‘quality’ in US sharesChange for ‘quality’ in US shares

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate 73 years of marriageJimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate 73 years of marriage

More in this Section

CervicalCheck patient support group welcome HSE's rapid reviewCervicalCheck patient support group welcome HSE's rapid review

Doubling amount of ethanol in petrol 'could reduce our carbon emissions'Doubling amount of ethanol in petrol 'could reduce our carbon emissions'

Man's life saved in dramatic rescue off Dublin BayMan's life saved in dramatic rescue off Dublin Bay

People urged 'that little bit more vigilant' when it comes wildfiresPeople urged 'that little bit more vigilant' when it comes wildfires


Lifestyle

This year heralds the return of a much-maligned shade, pulled from the design doldrums and now paired with some unexpected complementary colours, materials and tone-on-tone activity, writes Carol O’Callaghan.Fifty shades of beige

Their romance took Laura Roset and Ken Mohally from Mallow to Moldova and back again.Wedding of the Week: Love spreads from Mallow to Moldova

Every day, I take my wife a cup of tea in bed. However, we sometimes make love in the mornings and she pauses to finish her cup before it goes cold.Sexual healing: Her long tea breaks cools the moment

As the Caped Crusader hits 80 years of protecting Gotham City, Chris Wasser looks at the history of the world’s darkest superhero.80 years on, Batman still packs a punch

More From The Irish Examiner