Keren Byrne's co-workers are holding both an in-house auction and supporting a petition and GoFundMe to prevent the deportation of Irish man Keith Byrne.
Nurses and staff at Jefferson’s Methodist Hospital are throwing their support behind the fight to keep Irishman Keith Byrne in the United States.
Byrne's American wife Keren is a much-loved emergency room nurse in Methodist and her friends and co-workers have dedicated themselves to helping in any way they can as the threat of the Cork native's deportation worsens.
"Keren Byrne is an amazing Emergency Room nurse at Methodist," coworker Jessica Denning told IrishCentral in an email.
"In recent days she has found herself facing the very real possibility of having to leave her job, divide her family, lose her house (bought this year) and the dream she and her husband Keith have built: Keren as a nurse and he as a successful entrepreneur running a painting/decorating business.
"Keith is from Ireland, he came to America in 2007 on a visa waiver. A week before he was supposed to leave, he met Keren and they fell in love. They married in a surprise wedding at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2009 with only a handful of friends in attendance. Keith supported Keren through nursing school and raised her son of a previous relationship from the age of two. Since then, the couple has had two more children; Leona, 6, and Gabriel, 4.
"While Keith knew he overstayed his visa, he and Keren have been fighting for his US citizenship since 2010. He rode a bike to work, refusing to drive without a license which he later received legally. He took the proper steps to get a Social Security number so he could be taxed legally. When he started his business, he was granted a Tax ID so his business too would be legitimate in the eyes of the law.
"While applying for citizenship he hid in plain sight and cooperated with immigration authorities who were kept informed of his dwelling and ultimately, made his arrest what is being called 'easy pickings.'"
Keith Byrne's arrest by ICE
Byrne, a native of Fermoy in Co Cork, was arrested by Immigration Control and Enforcement [ICE] on July 10 when he was on his way to work in suburban Philadelphia. He is now being held in a Pike County prison in Pennsylvania as it looks likely that he will be deported to Ireland.
The Irish 37-year-old, who has his own house painting business, has been married to American woman Keren Byrne since 2009. The couple had two children together, and also raise Keren's teenage son from a previous relationship.
While applying for US citizenship in 2010 after marrying Keren, Keith disclosed that he had two marijuana possession charges from when he still lived in Ireland. His application was ultimately denied and he was served a deportation order which he and Keren have been fighting ever since.
"Keith is an honest hardworking individual. So honest that when applying for citizenship he answered honestly to a question he was not required to respond to at all," Denning added.
"Yes, he had been arrested in his home country of Ireland, for marijuana joints on two occasions in his 20s. An infraction so minimal in his country, he only received a small fine which he paid. This minor infraction he did not have to disclose has prevented him from gaining his citizenship in the country he is raising his family and building a life you might call, 'The American Dream' with his wife Keren by his side.
"July 10, Keith was pulled over on his way to work and detained by ICE. He has been in detention ever since. His fate and that of his family is likely to be determined in the next 24 hours. At the moment, his options have been reduced to deportation that will split his family - as his stepson will lose either Keren or his biological father and his extended family - or go to jail, potentially up to a year before his case will be heard before an immigration judge. We and they have waited for Philadelphia to cry foul in the defense of this couple for over a week."
Auction and fundraising for Keith Byrne
Denning and her co-workers have now launched an internal auction in order to raise funds for the Byrne family in their fight and are also supporting a GoFundMe and online petition established to help the family.
"At Methodist, we do a lot together," Denning explained.
"Dinners, parties both in and outside of work, weddings, funerals, baby showers, and vacations. A recent vacation resulted in what we are calling a 'Limited Edition Beach Towel' that features the picture of another of our fantastic nurse’s Daisy Award's picture on it. When the towel hit Facebook, we all wanted one. When Karen’s life fell apart, we were pressed for time to raise money for her. A staff member suggested a towel auction.
"At the moment, the auction for a single towel is about to exceed $1,000 after two days on the auction block. We fully anticipate the towel to auction for far more. Our plan is to give the towel to Keren, who responded to our auction effort with a much-needed laugh. You have to laugh in this field. You also have to have the support of your co-workers and family."
Launched on July 18, the Change.org petition already has over 1,000 signatures. You can sign your own name here.
Your signature could make the difference or share Friends what ever your views on immigration this is a time a family needs the public’s help Please sign and share, the link to sign & share is in the comment section below Thank you #freekeithbyrne https://www.change.org/p/simona-flores-director-of-enforcement-and-removal-operations-for-ice-halt-the-deportation-of-keith-byrne-and-allow-for-trial-by-immigration-judge?recruiter=57911139&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=petition_dashboard&recruited_by_id=20839360-d9e0-0130-b1ff-38ac6f16d25f&utm_content=starter_fb_share_content_en-us%3Av10Publiée par Dave Condon sur Jeudi 18 juillet 2019
A GoFundMe has also raised over $27,000.
You can learn more about Byrne's full story here:
Do you support Byrne's deportation from the US? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section, below.