19 April 2006

Desperate fight to stay in US awaits decision

Daily Ireland

By Connla Young

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usSolicitors acting for members of an Irish family set to be deported from the US are hopeful the controversial ruling will be overturned.
Belfast man Malachy McAllister and two of his four children were told last week that they may be deported from the US within months after an appeals court in Philadelphia upheld a decision to deport them.

Photo: Malachy McAllister - click to view

However, in an unprecedented move one of the three appeal judges made an impassioned plea for US Homeland Security chiefs to allow the family to stay in the US.
Unless a last ditch appeal to the US Department of Homeland Security succeeds, Mr McAllister his 20-year-old daughter Nicola and son Seán (19) will be forced to return to Ireland before the summer. Two remaining sons who have US residency and are married to US nationals will be allowed to remain in the country.
Mr McAllister was sentenced to seven years in prison in 1981 for his part in an INLA attack on an RUC man in Belfast. The Lower Ormeau man was released after three years.
In 1988 the Belfast man emigrated with his family to Canada after his home was raked with gunfire in a loyalist attack. After being denied asylum in Canada in 1996, the family moved to the US.
In 2001 Mr McAllister’s wife Bernadette and the couple’s four children were granted political asylum after a judge ruled that they were persecuted while living in the North. However, the Board of Immigration Appeals later overturned the asylum award. Mrs McAllister died in the US in 2004.
Speaking to Daily Ireland last night the McAllister family attorney Eamonn Dornan said their long battle to remain in the United States was not yet over.
“The decision now rests with the Department of Homeland Security and I’m quietly hopeful something might be worked out. When you get a ruling as eloquent as Judge Barry’s you would hope that the department would not ignore it. Malachy was almost deported two years ago but Irish America managed to rally around him and face Homeland Security down. The effect of that allowed the space to follow an appeal through the courts.”
The controversial court ruling upheld the US government’s right to deport the family under strict anti-terror laws introduced in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
In an emotional address, one of three federal court appeals judges called on the US Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to intervene and allow Mr McAlliser and his children to remain in the US.
Federal appeals judge Maryanne Trump Barry, a sister of property tycoon Donald Trump, expressed her deep sympathy for the McAllister family.
“I refuse to believe that ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ is now an empty entreaty. But if it is, it’s a shame. I cannot find a way to keep the McAllisters in this country, and I have surely tried,” she said.
“We cannot be the country we should be if, because of the tragic events of September 11, we knee-jerk remove decent men and women merely because they may have erred at one point in their lives.”
Long Island Republican congressman Peter King, who also chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, has urged Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff to grant the McAllister family political asylum in the US.
In a letter sent to Mr Chertoff last week the seasoned politician claimed Mr McAllister “has proved himself to be absolutely no threat to this country”.
A number of powerful Irish-American organisations including the Brehon Law Society have thrown their weight behind the McAllisters’ campaign to remain in the US.

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