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Keith Byrne freed from federal lockup

Keith Byrne and his wife Keren Zaga. Family photo.


By Irish Echo Staff

Cork man Keith Byrne has been released from a federal detention facility in Pennsylvania after a federal judge ordered his release.

His father, Jim, has told RTÉ radio that his son was still in shock over his release.

The release extends to a thirty day period. Byrne, married to a U.S. citizen and the father of three citizen children, still faces deportation from the U.S. but his freedom offers an opportunity to argue for himself in court as efforts mount to allow him remain in the country with his family.

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Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Drivetime this evening, Stephen Antwine, who is part of Byrne’s legal team, said that Antwine said that an injunction request had been filed with the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

“So at this point, we have an order granting Keith released for thirty days. And essentially, during that thirty days the case is going to be moved to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, at which time ICE and the federal government can argue, argue what they’d like,” Antwine said.

“But we are essentially arguing that Keith green card application was not properly adjudicated. And so we’ll be making that argument in front of the judges of the Eastern District,” he said.

Antwine told Drivetime that during the thirty days of his release, Byrne’s team plan to file another injunction with the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“We’re going to essentially be requesting that same release, that is his continued release from prison and continued stay of removal until the Eastern District can decide the case, the actual immigration case, on the merits,” he said.

Byrne’s release was contingent in part on his applying for an Irish passport so that he can travel back to Ireland.

Byrne (37) and from Fermoy, signed the passport application after nine days of detention in Pike County Correctional Facility in north-east Pennsylvania.

He was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, on his way to work on Wednesday, July 10.

Deportation and a resulting ban against reentering the U.S. will put an ocean between Byrne his American citizen wife, Keren Zaga, and their three children.

Keith Byrne entered the United States in 2007 under the visa waiver program. He overstayed after falling in love with the woman who would be his future wife.

Byrne married Zaga in 2009 and the couple live in Springfield, Pennsylvania, where he runs a painting business.

In 2010, Byrne applied for U.S. citizenship. The family was expecting a simple process due to his being married to a citizen, and being the father of U.S. citizen children.

However, because of two minor marijuana possession charges (which would not be criminal offenses under revised Pennsylvania law) from Mr. Byrne’s early 20s in Ireland, and his breach of the visa waiver program, his application and subsequent appeals were denied and he was ordered to be deported.

Now, however, Byrne would appear to have a fighting chance of remaining in the U.S. with his family.