Malachy McAllister with former senator George Mitchell at the recent Irish Consulate reception for Mitchell, grand marshal for this year’s New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the man who crafted the Good Friday Agreement.
By Ray O’Hanlon
At a time when the United States faces unprecedented security concerns at home and around the globe, the Department of Homeland Security still has time to pursue the deportation of Malachy McAllister.
After living for the past two decades in the United States, and in that time losing his wife and raising his children, McAllister has been summoned to appear at the DHS offices in Newark, NJ on Monday, April 25th.
The “Call-In” letter alerting McAllister instructs him “Surrender for removal” on that date.
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He is instructed on the one page letter to bring the letter with him along with “a small travel bag.”
Failure to report on the 25th, according to the letter, “may result in you being arrested by ICE” (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
In most recent years McAllister and his family have been granted relief from deportation on a yearly basis, this after the intervention of New Jersey senator, Bob Menendez, in the case.
Stated Menendez when he first took the action on McAllister’s behalf in 2012: “Malachy and his family are integral members of the New Jersey community. Knowing that this is a life and death situation for Malachy, I personally called the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, and pleaded Malachy’s case.
“I am pleased to say that today I learned that Malachy has been granted deferred action, allowing him and his family to stay in the United States. The St. Patrick’s Day wish of many in the Irish community was granted.”
Congressman Peter King, a leading Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee, has also written to ICE on McAllister’s behalf and Congressman Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, has also been supportive of the McAllister family over the years.
McAllister and his family fled Belfast in 1988 after loyalist gunmen fired into the family home.
They first sought refuge in Canada before coming to the U.S. in the mid-1990s and settling in New Jersey. The family experienced tragedy in 2004 when Malachy’s wife, Bernadette, died of cancer.
McAllister was at one point a member of the INLA but today is a staunch supporter of the Good Friday Agreement and a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.
In the recent St. Patrick’s Day Parade he marched with the United Irish Counties alongside Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.
In an email to supporters that followed the issuing of the Call-In letter, which is dated March 23, McAllister said he would “like someone to give me a sensible response or reason as to why homeland security wants to deport me after twenty years” and he poses the question: “Is there a more sinister reason behind their decision?”
McAllister said he was not seeking “retribution for the past 28 years,” just “closure and an opportunity to live without the threat of deportation.”
And he added: “I have worked hard since fleeing Ireland to protect my family and to prove that I am a productive member of society. I have become part of the fabric of Irish America and I have established very close ties to the community.
“I’ve owned a construction company in New York for eighteen years and more recently have become part owner of a bar/restaurant in New York both employing American citizens.
“More importantly I cherish the values, the freedom and the opportunity that America has given me.
“I have been a strong advocate for the GFA and have supported any and all initiatives to bring equality and peace to Northern Ireland. Sending me back will not achieve anything it will only harden people’s hearts and devalue what this great country is supposed to stand for.
“The stress that this is putting on my family and I is crippling to say the least.
I have a four year old son born in New York, and older children who depend on me, and five grandchildren, all natural born citizens.”
McAllister concluded his email with an appeal: “Please do all you can to end this nightmare.”