The wife of Irishman arrested by ICE describes the pain and suffering her family is going through and the devastation his arrest by ICE has caused.
Keran Byrne, 34, the wife of Irishman Keith Byrne arrested and jailed by ICE in Pennsylvania as he went to work on Wednesday, has described her three children’s pain at his arrest.
She told The Irish Times the pain of her children “makes my stomach turn in sick waves of panic, loss, sadness”, adding that her husband “did nothing but work hard to build a life better than the one he left behind to have it all torn away from him, from us.”
It appears Byrne was caught up in the ICE nationwide raids to arrest those under deportation orders even though the vast majority have no criminal records.
She also lashed out at the treatment of her husband in detention. Byrne from Fermoy is in the US for over a decade but overstayed his visa.
He has a successful painting company and met and married his wife of ten years, an American citizen.
However when he applied for a green card under the marriage visa provision two misdemeanor counts of marijuana possession in Ireland doomed his chances.He has been fighting deportation since.
Keran Byrne and their three children aged 13, six and four now fear the worst that the family will be separated.
Keran stated to the Irish Times that her husband was “picked up off the street without warning” leaving her and their three children — aged 13, six and four — “devastated.”
“The kids are sad and confused,” she told the Irish Times, breaking down crying.
“They miss their dad. They are asking me why he can’t come home.”
She stated her husband can’t see in prison because his contact lenses were removed. She also claimed he has limited access to drinking water and that phone calls are full of static and hard to hear.
Byrne, 37, was arrested on his way to work on Wednesday in the Springfield Township suburb of Philadelphia.
“We just didn’t think it would happen to us,” said Keren Byrne, Keith’s wife of ten years speaking to local news station WHYY
Byrne was arrested as his wife was preparing to bring their three kids 4, 6 and 13 years old to a water park.
There was a knock on the door and an ICE officer delivered the shattering news. “He told me a few times because I didn’t really process it,” she said.
Byrne had been about to go home when he met Keren over a decade ago.
“He was going to go home, but we met the same week he was making that decision,” she said. They fell in love and got married at the gazebo near the Philadelphia Museum of Ar.
They had two children and together are raising Keren’s son from a previous relationship.
The Byrnes set out to adjust Keith’s status in 2010 as he was legally married to an American citizen.
However, due to two minor marijuana possession charges in Ireland that Keith confessed to, he was denied the visa and ordered deported.
Since then, he has been raising her eldest son (13) from another relationship, and the couple also have a daughter (6) and son (4) together.
The Times reports that his efforts to secure residency have been hampered by two separate charges of personal use of cannabis from when he was younger in Ireland, said Mrs Byrne.
“It was so minor, he only got a fine,” she said.
He and his wife tried to stave off deportation after he was denied a green card.. ““During the nine years we have been doing that, he was legal,” she said. “He had work authorization, a social security number, paid all his taxes — he was not living here in the shadows. It was all very open from the beginning.”
The couple purchased their first home in February this year — “he worked every evening and weekend to fix it up and make a nice home for us all” but a final appeal against his being refused residency was denied.
“Keith is in a cell, behind bars,” said Mrs Byrne. “It is completely absurd, he is being treated like an absolute criminal.
“We didn’t know time was running out, that ICE was going to come after him.
“I don’t want to say we weren’t scared that this could happen, but we did not think through being honest and doing the right thing, that it would have this kind of consequence.”
“I just want him out of there. It is horrendous to think of him locked up like that.
“Keith would lend a helping hand to anyone. His heart is huge, he has so much room in it. He just doesn’t deserve this.
“He is so hard working — the kind of guy that gets up early and comes home later just because he wants a better life for us. He has worked so hard to get us to where we are today.
“It is completely heartbreaking to think he could not be here to enjoy and reap all of the rewards he deserves so much.”
“It is extremely complicated,” she said. “My oldest son has his own father and family in the US. Going to Ireland would split our families apart.”
Her only hope is that “someone, somewhere will do the right thing,'' she told The Times.