A private bill in support of Malachy McAllister, the Belfast native who is subject to deportation from the U.S. on April 25, will be introduced in the House of Representatives on Monday by Congressman Joe Crowley of New York. Co-sponsors of the bill so far include Congressmen Joe Crowley and Peter King of New York.
Also, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is mobilizing around the country, urging its members to reach out to House representatives to ask for relief for McAllister, who was told by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last month to report for deportation at an office in Newark, NJ on April 25 – an action which would bring an abrupt end to McAllister’s 20 years in the U.S. after fleeing Northern Ireland with his family in fear of their lives after their home was shot at by Loyalist paramilitaries in 1988.
“Time is of the essence. We all need to act now,” Crowley told the Irish Voice on Tuesday.
“Malachy meets all the requirements to avoid deportation. He is absolutely no threat to the United States. He is one of the former hard men who took risks for peace in Northern Ireland, and his case needs to be seen in that context. We do not want to give reason for the dissidents to say their campaign should continue, and deporting Malachy would do that.”
McAllister, a former member of the Irish National Liberation Army who served three years in prison in Belfast in the 1980s, and his family fled Northern Ireland in 1988 after their home was attacked with gunfire. They first went to Canada and then to the U.S., where their quest for political asylum has been litigated ever since.
Recently declassified U.K. intelligence documents indicate collusion between the British security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries in the attack on the McAllister home, making him even more worried about deportation.
“I’m just worn down,” McAllister told the Irish Voice on Tuesday morning. “So many years we’ve had to go through this. All I want is closure. Questions have to be asked as to why this is happening now.”
Each spring since 2006, McAllister received deferred action from ICE for 12 months, while his case for political asylum undergoes appeal under the Board of Immigration Appeals. In March ICE reversed this course of action and ordered McAllister to report for deportation.
ICE officials appear to be interpreting McAllister’s case in the context of President Obama’s executive order DACA, which offers deferred action for childhood arrivals of undocumented immigrants. Two of McAllister’s children are availing of DACA – his wife Bernadette passed away 12 years ago – which says children with clean records are low priority for deportation. McAllister’s prior arrest in Belfast, however, has been flagged by ICE, though the complete context of the political unrest in Northern Ireland at the time is being ignored, his supporters say.
McAllister, a resident of Rutherford, NJ owns a successful stone mason business which has employed several U.S. citizens, and a new Irish bar and restaurant in Manhattan, Wolfe Tone’s Irish Pub and Kitchen. His record has been spotless since arrival in the U.S., and he has long disavowed paramilitary activity in the North, staunchly advocating for the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.
Crowley has been working with Republican Congressman Peter King of Long Island and Democrat Bill Pascrell of New Jersey on McAllister’s case since the deportation letter arrived. Senator Charles Schumer of New York is also involved, and members of the Obama administration have been contacted. Crowley has also written on McAllister’s behalf to Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and ICE director Sarah Saldana.
The AOH is also urging action on behalf of McAllister, a long-time member of Mercer County AOH Division 1. McAllister, the AOH says, “now faces imminent deportation on April 25, as we remember the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Republic.
BronxAOH CommB'fast USREPJoeCrowley speaks1916 Centennial & Malachy McAllister's wUS.Welldone BronxPres. BobNolan pic.twitter.com/gfyBZpb8DO— Dan Dennehy (@Dan_Dennehy) April 3, 2016
“Malachy McAllister, here for the past 19 years, is raising his young family, is a productive businessman and employer and is acknowledged by many as a key promoter of the Irish peace process.”
The AOH is asking members to call their local House representative to urge a suspension of the deportation order against McAllister.