AN UNDOCUMENTED Irish woman living in New York has opened up about the reoccurring nightmare that ends with her six-year-old autistic son “in a cage”.
Irish people across America are living in fear following the commencement of raids by the US’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department that President Donald Trump says will see “millions of illegal aliens” removed from the country.
However, as many of the stories involving Irish immigrants living across the pond shows, these stories are rarely as cut and dried as the cold hard statistics would suggest.
Stories like that of Keith Byrne, the Irish father-of-three currently being detained at Pike County Correctional Facility ahead of his deportation.
It's a deportation that will see him separated from the family he built and the wife he married despite repeated attempts at gaining citizenship.
But Byrne isn’t alone.
Speaking anonymously to TheJournal.ie, an Irish woman known only as Ali lifted the lid on her own plight and a situation that has left her fearful of even answering her front door.
Ali has lived in the US for near 20 years, having moved over after finishing college.
Since then, she has got married and had a son though the couple separated shortly after the birth of their first child.
Ali didn’t apply for a green card when she was wed because of her partner’s tax issues at the time.
Though marrying an American does not automatically make you a citizen, it does make you eligible for a green card.
However, even then, anyone on one must stay married and living with their spouse for three years in order to apply for citizenship.
As a result, Ali has been desperately trying to gain citizenship.
But that has presented plenty of problems namely, in trying to find a sponsor for her application – someone willing to sign an Affidavit of Support, agreeing to financially support the person applying for citizenship.
With her ex-husband refusing to allow their six-year-old son, who is autistic, to move back to Ireland with her, she has had little choice but to remain.
But the ICE raids and the Trump administration’s renewed focus on illegal immigration, Ali has been forced into relative hiding, along with her son, rarely venturing outside.
“We are really just going to sit tight for a while,” she told TheJournal.ie.
“We don’t know who is going to be at the door anymore.”
Ali also revealed she has been in contact with other undocumented Irish in the US – many of whom have begun deleting phone contacts in the event they are seized during their detainment.
“The more they do these raids, the further underground we are all pushed… It is what keeps me awake at night,” she said.
“My nightmare is my six-year-old autistic son in a cage. Once they start arresting more Europeans, [the public] will be singing a different tune and it will be too damn late.”
The onus is now on figures like the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to take action to protect the undocumented Irish people living in the US.
However, with President Trump reacting angrily to Democrat opposition to his immigration plans, though pleas could fall on deaf ears.