Saturday 24 August 2019

Irishman facing US deportation was 'put in shackles'

Heartbroken: Keith Byrne said his US arrest was ‘pretty shocking. Photo: Jackie Fox/RTE
Heartbroken: Keith Byrne said his US arrest was ‘pretty shocking. Photo: Jackie Fox/RTE
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

The Irishman at the centre of an immigration storm in the US has spoken of how scared he was after being "thrown in a cell" by US authorities trying to deport him.

Keith Byrne (37), from Fermoy, Co Cork, was detained by US authorities for overstaying his visa and was held at the Pike County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania, for two weeks.

He had been expected to be deported last week, but his lawyer Thomas Griffin said a technicality with the final denial of a green card application was found and it is on that basis that Mr Byrne was released for 30 days.

Speaking for the first time since his release last Thursday, Mr Byrne told RTÉ News that he was "heartbroken" following the arrest.

"They put me in cuffs and they also put me in shackles, they put cuffs on my feet. They took me to a detention centre in Philadelphia, threw me in a cell," he said.

"I guess more than anything else I was just heartbroken because my babies, my wife, my business, my customers, my life, everything I worked so hard for was gone. So to pounce on me the way they did, it was pretty shocking."

Mr Byrne was denied a visa over two criminal convictions he has in Ireland.

"I have previous convictions in Ireland for personal use of marijuana, it's kind of embarrassing. It's a 14-year-old fine I paid in court so I don't know what message they're giving out by sending me home."

Irish Independent

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