Three US congressmen have signed a letter to Department of Homeland Security secretary calling for H-Block escapee Pol Brennan to be granted bail, pending resolution of deportation proceedings against him.
The move came as Mr Brennan’s jail was struck by a hurricane, requiring him to be moved across the length of Texas and further delaying his bail hearing.
Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Richard Neal, and New York Republicans Peter King and Jim Walsh, wrote that “Brennan’s continued detention without bond appears to serve no end that is consistent with the interest of the United States to foster a lasting peace in Northern Ireland.”
The Congressmen said that, in light of his 19-year marriage to American Joanna Volz, “and provisions in the law to waive his prior unlawful presence in the US, Mr Brennan ought to be granted the opportunity to contest the charge of removal with the privilege of release on bond.
“His continued detention is not justified for the security of the United States or its people nor is he a flight risk.”
Until last week, Brennan had been in the Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas, since being detained on January 27 at a Texas immigration checkpoint for having a lapsed work permit.
Mr Brennan was one of 38 IRA prisoners who escaped Long Kesh prison in September 1983 and ultimately settled in the US.
The west Belfast man was sent to Port Isabel Detention Centre in January after being arrested without an out-of-date work permit.
The 55-year-old spent his first four months there in solitary confinement on 24-hour lock-up.
Despite being able to prove that he had applied for a new permit, and having never been in trouble during his 24 years in America, he has languished at Port Isabel awaiting bail and deportation order hearings.
That was until last week, when a hurricane wrecked the prison. His first court appearance was scheduled for next week, however that is now unlikely to go ahead because of the confusion caused by the hurricane.
“Pol has been moved to a prison 1,000 miles away from Port Isabel,” explained his nephew Colm Keenan.
He was chained, thrown into the back of a prison van and driven 19 hours to the Otero County Processing Centre, also in Texas.
An international campaign for his release is currently underway.
His family on both sides of the Atlantic want him bailed to his home in San Francisco from where he can fight the deportation order.
“Pol has lived in America for 24 years and has never had a problem there,” added his nephew Colm.
“He is married to an American woman and before his arrest worked in building control for the city council in San Francisco.
“He has been treated terribly and his human rights are being abused.”
For more information on Mr Brennan’s campaign, log on to https://www.polbrennan.com