A Texas judge now has the power to set free former prisoner of war Pol Brennan -- or deport him to Ireland.
Brennan and his wife, Joanna Volz, both testified Friday inside a prison courtroom in Texas at the end of a three-day hearing that could determine if the former IRA man’s year-long nightmare at the hands of US immigration officials is ended or extended.
“He’s nervous and hopeful,” said Jim Byrne, a San Francisco attorney fighting to keep Brennan in the United States.
The case will be decided in a written opinion, which could be issued next week at the earliest.
Brennan has been jailed since January, when South Texas border guards pulled his care over during a family vacation and discovered his work permit had expired. A computer check drew up Brennan’s complicated past as a member of the famous the 1983 Long Kesh jail break, old extradition bids and his eventual settlement in the US.
Brennan spent seven years from 1993 fighting British government efforts to extradite him after he was arrested in the US. The British abandoned the case in 2000 citing the Good Friday Agreement.
However, Brennan has been locked up and treated as a serious criminal in a variety of Texas prisons ever since.
“I have supported the IRA morally and sometimes actively,” Brennan told U.S. Immigration Judge William Peterson last Thursday.
He also told the Texas court that he faced a possible loyalist attack if he was sent back to Ireland.
Even though he entered the country illegally, he has been able to renew his work permits, but not been able to get permanent immigration status.
Brennan asked US immigration judge William Peterson that he should be granted political asylum, or, at least, permanent immigration status allowing him to remain with his family in the country where he has settled for over two decades.