Irish businessman is released from immigration jail
Relives nightmare experience after two weeks in confinement
Niall O’Dowd, - IrishCentral - December 16, 2011
The nightmare of being plucked from your day to day life and jailed for an indefinite period, not knowing what will become of you, is one most of us will never experience.
A young Irishman picked up outside his home and held for deportation which I wrote about on Thursday experienced that dreadful fate.
I cannot name him for safety reasons but I am pleased to report that has been released from jail where he was being held on the immigration charges.
He has been given a date on which he is to leave the country and his business and successful life behind him.
As we talked he told me he was making every effort with his wife to avoid that fate.
The odds are probably stacked against him but he will make every effort.” I love this country, it has been great to me and my wife, I really want my unborn child to live here and experience how amazing it is “ he said.
As I reported the businessman, who employs 20 workers and whose wife is pregnant, was picked up and jailed, despite the fact that he had no police record was not wanted for any other crime and had simply taken the same path to success in America as millions of Irish before.
However, as he explained to me in an exclusive interview his world came crashing down when he was ready to drive to work one morning two weeks ago.
Armed agents from homeland security were outside his house . For a second he though they were regular police, coming to tell him they had traced the person who was using his stolen credit cards which he had reported.
But they were immigration agents who had traced him after someone turned him in as undocumented.
They has actually visited a previous address in Yonkers seeking him on two different occasions.
He still remembers the sense of fear and dread as the perfectly courteous officers placed him in a car and drove him to jail in Manhattan. “I did not know what would become of me “ he told me .
Ahead was a two week nightmare as he sought to make sense of his predicament .
He had gone in minutes from being a successful businessman with a great future to a name and a number in the American prison system
After spending two days in Manhattan he was transferred to a jail in New Jersey as his wife and friends frantically tried to pin down his location.
The first night he will never forget as he shared a cell with a prisoner who snored so loudly he was completely unable to sleep.
Soon he became attuned to daily life. He did not feel threatened, though he was one of a very fewwhite people being held, the guards he felt were business like and did not hassle him. The terrible uncertainty however gnawed at him.
Outside his wife and friends were frantically trying to find a way to get him released. PresidentObama had recently announced that only criminal aliens would be targeted by the ICE, the immigration and customs enforcement agency .
Why then was a young man who was providing extensive employment in New York, an upstanding member of the community, suddenly finding himself in prison?
We may never know why but on Wednesday after two weeks behind bars he was suddenly told to pack his things and to get ready to leave right away.
He though he was being deported there and then when he sat into the vehicle driving him away from the prison. Instead they told him he was being released and gave him the date when he is supposed to leave the country by.
He is deeply thankful to all who helped get him back to normal. Typically, he was back at work the next day, thankful for the politicians and Irish community leaders who tried to intervene.
“I so much want to stay, to build my life here with my wife and our children” he said.
Whether he will ever be able to achieve that remains a huge question mark.
Unfortunately, this is not an exception to the rule. It goes on every day of the week as attested to by the agencies in cities throughout the U.S. that provide services for Irish immigrants. They are routinely apprehended for minor infractions, detained for extended periods of time in jails with hardened criminals, and eventually deported. There will, most likely, be no change in this abhorrent practice whether or not either of the recently submitted immigration bills, both of which are based on the Australian E-3 visa program, is passed. The E-3 is an employment based non immigrant (temporary) visa which gives precedence to college graduates in specialty fields who wish to emigrate to the U.S. They do little or nothing to address the plight of our undocumented Irish nationals currently residing in the U.S. Unless and until their plight is recognized, addressed, and permanently resolved, these apprehensions, detentions, and deportations will continue unabated and will probably be intensified. It is time for those Americans who never hesitate to proclaim their Irishness to step up to the plate and do something to help our own in their time of need!!!
Jack Meehan, Past National President
Ancient Order of Hibernians in America