Pol Brennan, who has been imprisoned in a US jail since January of last year, has lost an appeal against a federal judge’s decision to deport him to Ireland.
Late last November, a US immigration judge ruled that the former IRA PoW and H-Block escapee, arrested in Texas after his work permit was found to have expired, should be deported.
But Mr Brennan has vowed to make one last bid to remain in his adopted country together with his American citizen wife. He will make a direct appeal to the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.
Mr Brennan said in a phone call from prison on Tuesday that the Board of Immigration Appeals had turned down his appeal.
“They indicated that they would move to deport me as soon as possible,” he said.
But any move to deport would be stopped by an appeal to Napolitano. Such a move would also shift the Brennan case squarely into the political arena.
“It’s my last chance,” said Brennan who supports the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
He said that he and his support and legal team would be organising a campaign to have people write to Napolitano and members of the US House of Congress on his behalf.
The 55-year-old former bartender was one of 38 IRA prisoners who escaped from Long Kesh prison in 1983. He moved to America and lived for a time under a false name in the San Francisco area.
Brennan, Kevin Artt, James Smyth and Terrence Kirby were arrested in the United States between 1992 and 1994 and fought lengthy legal battles against extradition.
Smyth was extradited back to Belfast in 1996 and was returned to prison, before being released in 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement.
In 2000, the British government announced that the extradition requests for Brennan, Artt and Kirby were being withdrawn as part of the Good Friday Agreement.
The men theoretically remain ‘on the run’, but in 2003 British officials said they were not being pursued.
For nearly six months, Brennan was held at the Port Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, on the Texas Gulf Coast. A day before Hurricane Dolly hit on July 23, he and hundreds of other immigrant detainees were evacuated to a prison in New Mexico. Brennan was later sent back to Texas.
Incredibly, Brennan’s attempt to secure bail from his Texas cell has so far been unsuccessful, despite support from three US congressmen. He is currently again incarcerated at Port Isabel.
Sinn Féin Assembly member Raymond McCartney said Brennan should not be sent back to Ireland.
“Pol Brennan has made a new life for himself in the USA,” he said.
“He is married to an American citizen for over 20 years and that is where Pol’s life now is.”
An online petition calling for a halt to the deportation - active from last April - currently has more than 1,400 signatures. The petition can be signed at https://www.polbrennan.com/