Keith Byrne, a native of Co Cork, is being detained in Philadelphia as he awaits deportation back to Ireland
Irish man Keith Byrne, who has been in the US for ten years, has been arrested outside of Philadelphia by ICE and now awaits deportation back to Ireland.
37-year-old Byrne was arrested on his way to work on Wednesday, July 10, in Springfield Township, a suburb of Philadelphia. The Irish man owns and operates his own house painting company.
Byrne is understood to have been in the US for ten years. He is married to Keren Byrne, a native of Pennsylvania, and the two have three young children together.
Keren told local news station WHYY that she was getting her three children - ages 4, 6, and 13 - ready for a trip to a waterpark when ICE knocked on her door to let her know her husband had been arrested.
"We just didn’t think it would happen to us," Keren said. “He told me a few times because I didn’t really process it."
Keith is being held at the Pike County Correctional Facility in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Keren revealed that Keith was about to return to Ireland when the couple first met: “He was going to go home, but we met the same week he was making that decision."
Keith and Keren fell in love and got married at the gazebo near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They had two children and together are raising Keren’s son from a previous relationship.
In 2010, the Byrnes set out to adjust Keith's citizenship status as he had legally married an American citizen. However, due to two minor marijuana possession charges in Ireland that Keith confessed too, he was denied the visa and ordered deported.
The Byrnes have been fighting the case ever since. Keren refers to her husband’s situation as “a black cloud” over their lives.
Attorney Wayne Sachs said: “[Immigration enforcement] knows where he’s going to be today, tomorrow, any day. He added that Byrne's arrest is “low-hanging fruit.”
Sachs sought to work with attorneys in Ireland to have the misdemeanor convictions removed, but ICE proceeded ahead with the deportation order regardless,
An ICE spokesman said Byrne “failed to depart the United States under the terms of his admission… [and] is currently in ICE custody pending removal.”
Keren has sought help from Senator Bob Casey and Congressman Brendan Boyle among others, but there is little that could be done as all legal appeals had run out.
“I probably have a thousand thoughts in my head every couple minutes, about what I could do and couldn’t do, losing hope, gaining hope,” she said.
If Keith goes to Ireland, then she said she will too.