Donegal Illegal Detained in US

THE family of a young Irishman held in an American jail has appealed to the U.S. authorities to deport him without further delay.Soldier's son Brian Gethins was arrested last week while on his way by bus to visit his Irish American girlfriend Shannon Reynolds.The 22-year-old is being held as an illegal immigrant in Cumberland County Jail in Portland, Maine.His parents Jimmy and Majella Gethins, of Finner, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, who fear he may be kept behind bars for three months, appealed to the U.S. authorities to send him home straightaway.Jimmy, a fitter at Finner Army Camp, said, "Brian will pay the fare or we will pay it for him, no problem. If he has to be deported we just don't understand why it can't be done straight away. Why does he have to be kept imprisoned for so long before processing his case?"Carpenter Brian, a senior Gaelic football star with his local GAA club, Aodh Rua, Ballyshannon, visited Boston for three months to play with the Donegal Gaelic football team there. He met and fell in love with 27-year-old Shannon and stayed several months beyond the permitted 90-day limit.A routine immigration check of passengers on the bus bringing him on a visit to Shannon in Tresque Isle in Maine led to his arrest when he couldn't produce evidence of legal status.The only communication his parents have had with him since then is through Shannon who has been allowed visit him in jail.His dad said, "Being locked up will do Brian no good whatever. He has never been in trouble with the law. He doesn't even have a parking ticket."Bundoran Sinn Fein Councilor Michael McMahon, a campaigner on behalf of the undocumented with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, has taken up the case of Brian, second-eldest in a family of five.McMahon called on Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern and other Irish politicians. to intervene when they were in the U.S. for St. Patrick's celebrations.Heartbroken Shannon told the Irish Voice why she wants Brian deported immediately."He has never done anything wrong in his life. Being banged up behind bars without knowing how long he will be kept there is very frustrating for him and his family," she said."There's no reason for it. All Brian did was overstay his permitted time. He has the price of his fare home yet they are keeping him locked up."Cumberland County Jail is five hours' drive from Shannon's home."We met almost a year ago and fell in love. Brian has now been told he is to be deported," she said."We accept that has to happen and I am willing to go to Ireland with him. But nobody will tell us what is happening. One minute we're being told he will be deported in a week, the next we're told he could be held for eight weeks or even three months."It doesn't make sense. Why won't they deport him now?"Shannon, a bartender, added that once Brian is back in Ireland they plan to set about seeking a fianc visa to facilitate his return to the U.S."We are hoping what has happened now won't affect that. We want to marry. While I am more than happy to join him in Ireland our wish is to eventually settle down together in America," she said.Because Brian isn't allowed make trans-Atlantic phone calls from the prison his family's only means of communication is through Shannon.She has already been to visit him in jail and plans to return. She said, "The prison is in southern Maine. I'm at the other end. It's like driving almost the length of Ireland and then I am allowed a visit for only an hour early in the morning or late in the evening."She added, "Whatever the difficulties we are determined to remain together. I really do believe that love will conquer all."The Department of Foreign Affairs has been making representations to the U.S. through its consulate in Boston.


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