The following infortmation is from irishdeportees.com, the new website of the Irish Deportees of America Committee, containing information on several cases currently before US courts, including the Ferry case.
Please visit irishdeportees.com to register and lend your support.
On March 15, 2002, in the City of Chicago, the Irish Deportees of America Committee was formed in response to the increasing fear that Irish nationals once involved in the Irish Republican movement, prior to the Good Friday Agreement, would be asked to leave the country that they have lived in for decades. All those represented on this committee are in full agreement with the Good Friday Agreement in the north of Ireland and have individual current immigration cases within the United States. They all have wives and children that will be affected by any action taken against them by the pending U.S. deportation orders. These men and their family’s lives are in jeopardy if they are sent back to Ireland involuntarily. They have lived productive and peaceful lives for decades in the United States and would like the privilege to stay and live in America permanently.
On December 11, 2000, Attorney General Janet Reno issued a decision at the request of the State Department, and took action to terminate the deportation proceedings against nine individuals who had served sentences for political activities in Ireland. President Clinton recognized that, while not condoning their activities, removing the threat of deportation would contribute to the peace process.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), two nationalist and primary Irish Catholic groups, fought against British rule in northeast Ireland. Both groups are on cease-fire. The Good Friday Agreement (GFA) called for the release of all prisoners on both sides of the conflict and, through the Patten Commission Report, a reform of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) a paramilitary, and sectarian, police organization which is now called the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). All political prisoners with activity prior to the GFA have been released, and the British government granted amnesty to others who were not imprisoned.
John McNicholl, originally from Derry is suspected of having past membership in the INLA, having escaped from the H-Block/Long Kesh prison in the 1980’s and shooting an RUC officer was arrested by the INS on the morning of Thursday, July 17, 2003 at 5:30 a.m. as he walked out of his home in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, on his way to work. After living in America since 1984, he was deported to Ireland under the cover of surprise and darkness by the INS. Neither his lawyer nor his family were given prior knowledge of this. The only reason the family knew something was wrong was when John’s teenage son awoke to hear the sound of his father screaming down the sidewalk. The son ran to the door to find his father being put into an unmarked car by unknown men. An appeal was filed that day but it was summarily rejected by the 5th Circuit Court in Philadelphia and John was deported instantly. McNicholl’s wife and family were forced to make a decision of whether to leave the lives that they built in Pennsylvania or return to Ireland where they face danger. The harassment is not over for Irish Deportee, John McNicholl and his family. When the U.S. deported John McNicholl last year, the Irish Deportees of America Committee feared that he would be targeted and harassed upon his return to Ireland. Since July 2003, the Loyalists working with the police have been trying to get him extradited to the north. It was recently reported in a Belfast newspaper, that their efforts are ongoing. This is an extremely dangerous situation for John and his family.
A recent motion to bring Irish deportee, John McNicholl, back to the states was rejected by the Court of Appeals in Philadelphia this month.
The harassment is not over for John McNicholl and his family. When the U.S. deported John last year, the Irish Deportees of America Committee feared that he would be targeted and harassed upon his return to Ireland. Since July 2003, loyalists working with the PSNI are attempting to get him extradited to the north. This is an extremely dangerous situation for John and his family.
Several other cases have surfaced of families who are under similar threat of deportation. Malachy McAllister and Ciaran Ferry, both originally from Belfast, have launched campaigns that are working on their behalf.
Ciaran Ferry, a 32 year old Irish citizen from Belfast and former Irish prisoner of war, who had been detained in 1993 and held in Crumlin Road Jail and later the infamous H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison, was arrested without a warrant by INS agents as he attended a scheduled “green card” interview on January 30th, 2003 with his wife, Heaven Ferry present. Heaven, an American citizen and mother of their 3 year old daughter, Fiona, is still shocked by her husband’s arrest. “How can they arrest him and keep him in jail for so long when he’s married to a US citizen and has had a pending application?”.
Out of fear in returning to Ireland, Ciaran chose to stay in the United States and wait out his deportation case because he firmly believes that it would be dangerous to return to Ireland, as it would put the lives of his wife and daughter in jeopardy.
While the couple lived in Belfast, personal details on Ciaran were discovered by police on Loyalist death lists. The couple was issued a government grant to secure their flat against gun and bomb attacks.
Ciaran is currently being held in Jefferson County Jail in Colorado, where he has been held for over 550 days without charge. Previously, he spent 9 months in solitary confinement in Denver County Jail for allegedly overstaying his visa, even though he came over to the U.S. on the visa waiver program and was living in New Jersey with his American family for years on a work visa.
Heaven and her daughter were forced to relocate from their New Jersey home to live with her parents in Colorado while they fight for Ciaran’s freedom. Their home and cars were repossessed and their credit has been ruined in order to keep up with the financial burden of battling this deportation case in our justice system.
The Ferry’s received a legal blow on May 12, 2003 when the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denied his appeal of an earlier immigration court decision, denying him political and religious asylum in the United States.
The BIA did not expand upon the lesser Judge’s ruling, and also did not address the constitutional issues in Ferry’s case, in particular, his lengthy detention. At this time, the US Government is unable to remove Ciaran, due to a Petition For Habeas Corpus that was filed in a Federal Court in April 2003, and has yet to be ruled upon. In that case, the Judge ordered that Ferry be physically present at all hearings.
The U.S. Government denied Ciaran’s application for permanent residence, four nomths into his stay in solitary confinement, claiming that “criminal convictions” make him inadmissible to the United States. This disheartened those in the Irish American community who support the Good Friday Agreement that promotes peace and justice in Ireland and the release of all Irish political prisoners.
Ciaran’s attorneys; Eamonn Dornan, Tom Burke and Jeff Joseph, filed a habeas corpus petition back in front of the Judge, and hoped that this would result in Ciaran’s release from jail after nearly seventeen months. They also planned an appeal of the Asylum decision to the Tenth Circuit Court in Colorado.
Attorney Eamonn Dornan, feels that “Mr. Ferry’s continued incarceration represents an unduly harsh and inequitable measure.”
Homeland Security had a deadline of August 4th to make a determination whether to release Ciaran from jail or to produce a written statement on why they are continuing to hold him. Eamonn Dornan said, “Homeland Security has failed to meet its lawful obligations. This is yet another breach of Ciaran’s constitutional rights to due process and a further illegal restriction of his liberties”. Homeland Security in a written response to attorneys refused to directly address the reasons why they are still holding Ciaran Ferry.
Malachy McAllister, a former INLA political prisoner in Ireland, and his family have been fighting to stay in this country for decades.
After a vicious attack by loyalists on their home in 1988 in which 26 bullets were fired at the children and the children’s grandmother, the family fled in fear for their lives to Canada. In 1996 they moved to the United States where they settled in New Jersey.
In 2000, Judge Henry Dogin of the Immigration Court in Newark, New Jersey ruled that Malachy’s wife, Bernadette, and their four children had suffered “severe persecution” at the hands of the RUC, the British Army and Loyalist Paramilitary Forces. While the Judge granted the family political asylum, he ordered that Malachy be deported because his Northern Ireland convictions for targeting the RUC during the hunger strikes in 1981 made him a terrorist and therefore not eligible for asylum. The INS took the unprecedented step to appeal the judge’s ruling a month later, determined to deny Bernadette McAllister and the children’s political asylum in the United States.
Later, in November 2003, the Board of Immigration Appeals ordered Malachy’s immediate deportation and revoked the asylum status of his wife, Bernadette and their children.
On December 1, 2003 at the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) detention center in Newark, New Jersey Malachy McAllister presented himself to the BICE along with his attorney, Eamonn Dornan and Congressional Representatives Steve Rothman (D, NJ) and Eliot Engel (D, NY) at his side to represent him.
On January 15, 2003, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit agreed to hear the McAllisters’ appeal and forwarded their cases to a three-judge merits panel. Additionally, the Court granted Malachy McAllister a stay of removal from deportation until the panel made its decision on his case. After speaking with agents and Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary for Homeland Security’s Border & Transportation Security, it was announced to a crowd of media and supporters that gathered in front of the BICE Building that Malachy was able to remain in this country until his appeal process was completed.
A letter issued in January 2004, from the United States Congress contained 28 signatures calling for the McAllister’s deportation order to be removed. On July 27, 2004 Congressman Rothman introduced a Bill in the United States Congress to grant permanent legal status to the McAllister’s. This measure if passed would allow Malachy McAllister & his dependent children to live freely in the U.S. Recently at a fundraiser in Chicago, Malachy McAllister was given a standing ovation for his touching speech on how his family, particulary his wife Bernadette, who passed away in May after undergoing treatment for cancer, has paid the “ultimate sacrifice” during their family struggle to live in the United States. Malachy said it appears as though the message the US Government is sending is, “IRISH REPUBLICAN FAMILIES NEED NOT APPLY”.