A GoFundMe page set up to help a Fermoy man currently being held by US Immigration in the country he has called home for 12 years has raised almost €16,000 ($18,000 US) in just two days.
Keith Byrne (37) was arrested on his way to work in Pennsylvania on Wednesday as part of a Trump administration crackdown on illegal immigrants and is set to be deported within the next fortnight, despite being a business owner, a homeowner and a husband to a US citizen.
He is currently being held at a Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centre in Scranton.
Mr Byrne, who runs a painting business, has been in the United States since 2007 and has been married to US citizen Keren for almost a decade. If he is deported, his family intend to relocate to Ireland.
Despite never receiving citizenship, Mr Byrne has been allowed to work in the States and received a social security number from authorities. He has been actively seeking citizenship since 2010 but two cannabis possession charges from his time in Ireland have complicated the process despite Mr Byrne declaring them from the beginning.
Cork East TD Seán Sherlock has called on Tánaiste Simon Coveney and the Irish Government to urgently intervene.
“Keith Byrne is a hard working family man who was going about his daily business when he was lifted. His case highlights the precariousness of Irish people who have settled in the US, who have no legal status but who are contributing to society.
“It is vital that his case is raised at the highest political level to seek to have him released on humanitarian grounds. He poses no threat to anyone. His wife and children are beside themselves with worry. A political intervention by the Minister for Foreign Affairs would certainly assist matters at this stage.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up by a cousin of Ms Byrne’s wife Jeff Snader.
Mr Snader said: “In this great country we get a lot of things right. But there is nothing right with the deportation of Keith Byrne. He is a dedicated member of society, a tax paying entrepreneur, a loving father and stepfather of three children, a man of the household who cares deeply for his wife and a patriot of the United States of America.
“Simply enough: we got this one wrong.
“The America we love is here to support life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is intended for all of the brave and caring souls who are willing to sacrifice and put in the work to be a part of this. Keith Byrne exemplifies this,” he added.
Donations to the page will be used for legal costs to help Mr Byrne’s case and if he is deported, the funds will be used to help the family set up home in Ireland.