An American mom of Irish kids is facing deportation for Christmas.
Megan and Richard Crowley met in Boston in 2004 after he left Northern Ireland following a bad breakup. Speaking to IrishCentral, Richard said he went to “to get my head cleared” and met Megan a few weeks before he was due to return home.
They married in 2006 and moved to Belfast with their kids shortly afterwards. After arriving in the United Kingdom, Megan was granted temporary leave to remain, but recently her request for an extension was declined by Britain’s Home Office.
On the advice of the local Sinn Féin legislator Megan applied for an Irish citizenship in March. Applicants are told to expect a six month wait before it’s granted, but nine months on she’s still waiting and now facing the prospect of Christmas in America without her four children.
“We tried to get an update to see where it’s at,” Richard said, “but we’re just hitting walls. We know it’s at Stage 2, but the waiting period’s supposed to be six months and it’s now nine and her British visa is up on the 23rd of December.”
It’s the prospect of having to leave her kids for Christmas that most worries Megan at this point, and they’ve decided to be completely honest with them about what might happen to their Mom.
“I feel really bad that I’m doing this to them,” she admitted, but they wanted them to know, “because I might not be here on Christmas Day. My youngest is pretty upset about it, she wonders if I leave will she ever see me again.”
And once she leaves the United Kingdom, she won’t be able to reenter until her Irish citizenship and passport are processed.
“There’s no point applying for a British visa,” Richard adds, “they’ll just take our money and then refuse her. It’s been a constant struggle with them.”
Even their nine-year-old daughter received a deportation notice because of her American birth. Only once the Home Office established she was a British and Irish citizen via her father was the threat of deportation withdrawn.
So far they’re not impressed with the Irish Government’s behavior either.
“I don’t know how much more straightforward our application could be,” Megan continues.
“We’ve been married for 12 years; we’ve been living on the island for nine. The requirement is only to be living here for three and married for one year. So we’ve far surpassed any requirement.
“I’ve never been in jail. I’ve never been in trouble. I’m not involved in anything. I’ve not even had any traffic violations here or in America.”
The Crowleys have asked Ireland’s Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, to exercise his discretion and speed up the process but have heard nothing back.
Were he to intervene it would, Richard says, it would “save a lot of bother and a lot of heartache because we just don’t know what we’re going to do now.”
“The British Government are pretty sharp about sending the old eviction papers,” he adds bitterly.
The Crowleys don’t want to return to America; their kids are settled in Belfast and they love the life they have made together in Ireland.
"I love this city. I love the people here. People are so nice and so kind. I would hate to leave Ireland. I would hate to leave my kids," Megan finishes.
After so many years building a life and family together in Belfast, the Crowleys feel they earned the right to remain in Ireland. The question is will their paperwork come through in time for Christmas?