Friday 15 December 2017

Irish man detained in Boston after alleged $1,300 'cheque theft' is deported to Ireland

Donegal man John Cunningham
Donegal man John Cunningham

Denise Calnan and Cathal McMahon

A well-known Irish man living illegally in Boston has been deported to Ireland, over two weeks after his arrest.

John Cunningham (38) left Boston on a commercial flight Wednesday night, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Shawn Neudauer told the Boston Herald.

The Irish Independent revealed last week that there was an outstanding warrant for Cunningham in Massachusetts after he allegedly took a cheque for $1,300 (€1,170) from a man to carry out electrical work at a home in March 2014.

Alleged victim Christopher Waltham claimed that he never saw or heard from Donegal-native Mr Cunningham again and he filed a police report in May of that year.

A spokesperson for West Roxbury District Court confirmed that Mr Cunningham was scheduled to appear in court on October 16, 2014 but he failed to appear.

The spokesperson confirmed that a warrant was issued for his arrest at that time and this remains outstanding.

But then Mr Cunningham was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers on June 15, for "immigration violations".

His deportation has heightened concern among the sizeable community of undocumented Irish living under the Trump regime, according to the Boston Herald today.

The city's Irish community is now worried about further deportations, an advocate told the Boston Herald.

Mr Cunningham emigrated from Glencolmcille, Co Donegal, to Boston in February 2000 and had previously appeared in an RTÉ 'Prime Time' documentary on the undocumented Irish.

Shawn Neudauer, Public Affairs Officer for the ICE agency, previously told this publication his arrest had nothing to do with the Trump administration.

"John overstayed his visa by 15 years. Oddly, enough a lot of people are trying to tie this with the current presidential administration.

"This has always been a priority. People were arrested and removed under the prior administration going back many years," said Mr Neudauer.

The ICE representative added that if a visitor to the US stayed in excess of 90 days without the required documents then they will be subject to arrest and immediate deportation.

"There is no hearing before an immigration court, there's no judicial involvement whatsoever.

"If I was to come to Ireland and stay 100 days, Irish authorities can arrest me and keep me in jail before I get sent back.

"John will be held in custody until he will be sent back to Ireland. This will be relatively quick. He won't be kept in jail for very long and has no right to appeal," he said.

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