"This is where I belong": Keith Byrne opens up in interview after temporary release from US prison

"This is where I belong": Keith Byrne opens up in interview after temporary release from US prison

IRISHMAN KEITH Byrne, who was temporarily released from prison last week after being detained for ten days, has opened up about his ordeal and how it is affecting his family.

Speaking to RTÉ, Mr Byrne says he is feeling hopeful for the future but for now can only put faith in his lawyer and in the law of his adopted country.

A shaken Mr Byrne described the day of his arrest, saying:
“When I was pulled over I was wondering why.

And when they came to my window and I saw it was ICE I was immediately scared and confused.

We were fighting for a long time to make things right."

Mr Byrne came to America twelve years ago but failed to leave when his visa ran out. He married, gained a stepson and went on to have two children of his own. All four members of his family are American citizens.

The “awful experience” began with his arrest by Immigrations and Custom Enforcement (ICE), where both his arms and feet were cuffed, and he was taken to an immigration detention centre.

The “very, very scared” Cork man was initially detained indefinitely, until a US Judge ruled last week that he should be released for 30 days, meaning ICE cannot touch him until the end of next month, giving him, his family and his lawyer the chance to make a case for an appeal.

While in prison, Mr Byrne said he was “heartbroken” as “everything I worked so hard for was gone without warning”.

He has been attempting to secure citizenship for almost ten years, but his efforts have been hindered by two convictions for the possession of small amounts of marijuana when he was still living in Ireland. Mr Byrne did not serve jail time, instead paying a fine in court, and calls the convictions “embarrassing”.

Asked if he feels he was targeted in President Trump’s administration’s immigration crackdown, Mr Byrne says of his arrest by ICE: “I feel like I deserved at least a warning”, as he was “battling for too long to be pounced on”.

Due to his uncertain status in the US, Mr Byrne has not left the country since his arrival over a decade ago and has not seen his family in Ireland since then.

“I’ve sacrificed quite a bit. I haven’t seen my parents in twelve years. I’ve missed out a whole lot.”

For now, he is free to live life as normal, spending time with family and running his painting and decorating business, but time is still running out.

“It’s good to be home” he says.

“This is where I belong”.