THE deportation of a former IRA prisoner has been cancelled because senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security need more time to review the case.

Pol Brennan, who was due to be deported back to Northern Ireland early last week, was told at the last minute that U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has agreed to review the Belfast man’s case in depth.

Brennan has been detained in Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas since he was arrested in January 2008.

Brennan was traveling with his wife Joanna Volz on the way to visit a mutual friend in Texas when he was detained at an immigration checkpoint because his work permit had expired.

Work permit application

Brennan, who has a 2005 misdemeanor assault conviction, had applied to have his work permit renewed and was awaiting word from authorities.

Brennan and his lawyers are hoping that Napolitano will grant him a deportation waiver on the grounds that being deported would cause hardship to his American wife, whom he has been married to for 20 years.

In 1976, Brennan, armed with a handgun, was arrested while moving explosives through Belfast. A year later he was sentenced to 16 years in jail. In 1983, Brennan was one of the 38 IRA prisoners who escaped the Maze Prison. Months after the escape, Brennan moved to the U.S. to start a new a life.

In 1993, Brennan was arrested in Berkeley, California after applying for a U.S. passport using a false name. Brennan was released on bail.

During the 1990s, England requested his extradition but in the upshot of the Good Friday Agreement, Britain dropped its extraction case against him in 2000.

Support from Congressman Pete King

Brennan moved on with his life and worked as a carpenter in San Francisco from 2000 to 2006 under a work permit.

Brennan has received support from the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) as well as Congressmen Peter King and Jim Walsh from New York and Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, chairman of he the Friends of Ireland in Congress.

Last November, Brennan told a court in Texas that he feared his life would be in danger if he were deported back to Ireland. He said he hoped for political asylum.

It was revealed in court that Brennan arrived in the U.S. in 1984 under a false name and later purchased a pistol using the same alias.