IRISHMAN KEITH Byrne, whose battle to prevent his deportation from the United States has made international headlines, will reference John Lennon in his appeal.
The Cork native had problems becoming a permanent resident of the US due to two minor cannabis charges for possession from when he lived in Ireland.
He was arrested by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last month on his way to work in Philadelphia, and was eventually temporarily released in order to prepare for his trial.
Now a lawyer for the father-of-three has revealed that he plans to remind the US Government that legendary singer John Lennon was almost deported from the US for the same charges but won his case.
During Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’ campaign to get President Nixon voted out of office, the Nixon administration tried to deport the former Beatles musician to stop him causing trouble, citing his conviction for possession of cannabis which he received while he was a resident in the UK.
The case, which is eerily similar to Mr Byrne’s, was thrown out after a three-year-long battle to stop the deportation, when three federal judges found that the possession conviction in the UK did not meet American standards of justice.
One of Mr Byrne’s legal team, Joe Hohenstein, outlined the plan for the appeal, as reported by The Irish Times:
“The British version of marijuana possession is identical to the Irish version.
“Even under the current US immigration law [that is] not something that should make someone what we call inadmissible.
"That is one of the main things we will be trying to bring home when we file these papers in court.”
Mr Byrne himself also voiced his frustration when he spoke to RTE’s Drivetime, saying:
“I’m embarrassed for the government of Ireland and the government of the United States for something like that (The cannabis possession) to ruin my life, my wife’s life, my children’s lives.”
He is not entertaining the idea that he will be forced to leave the United States, instead putting all his energy into the appeal to overturn the planned deportation.
“I don’t want to think about something that may never happen.
“I will think of that when I’m on a plane. Right now, I’m thinking of how I can stay here and continue.”
Mr Byrne has a wife, three children and a self-built business in the US. He has lived in the country for over a decade.