By Ray O’Hanlon
He will still have to report next Monday to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
But he won’t have to bring that “small travel bag.”
And at the end of the meeting, Malachy McAllister will be able to return to his home – in New Jersey.
News was filtering through today on a decision by the Department of Homeland Security and ICE to put a stay on the deportation order against the Belfast man which was due to go into effect next Monday, April, 25.
The precise mechanics of what happens next are unclear at the time of writing, but it would appear that authorities are going to exercise prosecutorial discretion in the McAllister case.
And discretion in his favor.
At the very least, McAllister’s American life would appear to be now secure for the duration of the Obama administration.
The eleventh hour stay on deportation follows a major political effort on McAllister’s behalf involving over forty members of the House of Representatives signing on to a bipartisan letter - penned by Reps. Joe Crowley, Peter King and Bill Pascrell - and sent to Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, and the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Sarah Saldaña.
On the Senate side, the effort to push back against the deportation order was led by Senators Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and New York’s Charles Schumer.
The reprieve is but the latest landmark in a saga stretching back 28 years to when McAllister, his wife Bernadette, who died in 2004, and their four children fled Belfast for first Canada and then the U.S., this after loyalists fired 26 shots into the family’s Belfast home.
“The ‘bag’ letter has been rescinded and the deportation is not going ahead. We are still trying to figure out the precise mechanics of what happens next,” said a source familiar with the effort to keep McAllister in the U.S.