Malachy McAllister won the support of Hillary Clinton on Monday night in his ongoing quest to avoid deportation next Monday, April 25. McAllister, a resident of the U.S. for 20 years who fled his home in Belfast after Loyalist paramilitaries attacked it with gunfire in 1988, met with Clinton at an Irish American rally hosted by John Fitzpatrick at the Fitzpatrick Grand Central Hotel.

“She was shocked to hear that my case is still going on, that it hasn’t been settled,” McAllister told the Irish Voice on Tuesday morning.

“She remembered me from my speaking at a Brehon Law Society event in 2004. She was very surprised that I’m facing deportation.”

McAllister was accompanied to the Clinton meeting by attorney Brian O’Dwyer, who stressed to Clinton the importance the Irish American community places on McAllister’s case and his goal to remain in the U.S. with his family which includes a four-year-old son.

“She gave me great time and consideration and I was very grateful for that,” said McAllister, a resident of Rutherford, New Jersey who owns a successful contracting business and recently opened an Irish pub in Manhattan.

Last week, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Bill Pascrell introduced a private bill, HR 4920, seeking to block the deportation ordered by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which sent a letter to McAllister last month ordering him to report to an ICE office in Newark, New Jersey for deportation. McAllister’s status in the U.S. has received an order of deferred action each year while his case for legalization continues in the courts, after a denial of his political asylum application.

McAllister, a former member of the INLA who served three years in prison in the 1980s for his role in the outlawed paramilitary group, also traveled to Washington, D.C. last week for a meeting with political supporters on Capitol Hill. A letter signed by 44 members of the House and Senate to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and ICE Director Sarah Saldana is also circulating on his behalf.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has also written to the Department of Homeland Security, stressing the importance of continuing to secure the Good Friday peace deal in the North, and the bad signal that would be sent if McAllister were to be deported.

“We have great support in Washington, Joe Crowley, Peter King, Richie Neal, so many. We met with politicians and everyone is doing everything they can,” McAllister said.

The congressional letter urges Johnson and Saldana to continue granting deferred action to McAllister.

“For the past 20 years, Mr. McAllister has lived in the Tri-State New York/New Jersey area, contributing to American society and raising his family in safety and security. We urge you to consider fully his current contributions and weigh them against the circumstances surrounding his previous convictions, which we believe provider a greater context that is critical to developing an understanding of Mr. McAllister’s background,” the letter says.

“Mr. McAllister presents no threat to the safety and security of the United States, or to any other country, and his offenses are historical, committed over 30 years ago in the course of a now much-resolved centuries old political conflict. He clearly meets the department’s guidelines for prosecutorial discretion on a number of different grounds, not least because he has resided here for decades and has a very young U.S. citizen child and family who depend on him, and which will suffer significant adverse consequences of his removal.”

With less than a week to go before the April 25 deportation deadline, McAllister is understandably nervous.

“The clock is ticking, and we’ve done everything we can do,” said McAllister, who hopes that Johnson, a native of New York, will take note of all the local political support McAllister has and suspend the deportation order.

On Tuesday, AOH National President Brendan Moore sent a letter to members of Congress urging them to take note of HR 4920 and the support that it has.

“Your colleagues are asking Homeland Security to suspend the deportation order on Malachy McAllister, a long time New Jersey resident and respected Irish community leader and business owner,” Moore wrote.

“I ask you on behalf of our fellow AOH member, Malachy McAllister, his young family and all of those like him who continue to promote Peace in Ireland, to encourage HSE Director Jeh Johnson to allow Malachy to stay with his family in the USA.”

Malachy McAllister photographed with Hillary Clinton earlier this year.Debbie McGoldrick