‘They arrested me, put handcuffs on my feet and hands. They treated me like a proper criminal and took me to prison’ – Keith Byrne

Fermoy native Keith Byrne is now back with his family in his Philadelphia home having been granted a 30 days release from Pike County Correctional Facility.

He had been detained in the prison for 15 days after he was arrested without warning by ICE nearly three weeks ago. 

“I didn’t realise it was ICE until they came to my window and I asked them what they were doing. They arrested me, put handcuffs on my feet and hands. They treated me like a proper criminal and took me to prison,” Mr Byrne told Newstalk earlier this week. 

On Wednesday, July 24 a US federal judge ordered the release of the 37 year old Fermoy man and Mr Byrne was reunited with his wife and children. 

“It’s so overwhelming. I’m still in shock and confused about the whole thing,” he said. 

“I was very fortunate to be granted those 30 days. I clearly have a good lawyer. What happens in the next 30 days I won’t know until I speak to him early this week. I’m sure they have a plan. I’m very hopeful. I think we’ve been so honest and up-front and so I hope there’s something the lawyers can do.”

Keith Byrne pictured with his wife Keren, his daughter Leona, his son Gabriel and his step-son Ezra.

Mr Byrne has been working to get a green card with nearly 9 years but due to two convictions of possession of cannabis for personal use back in Ireland 14 years ago, Mr Byrne’s effort  to gain citizenship have been constantly stopped in their tracks. 

“My main goal is to become an American citizen. I’ve done everything by the book since I’ve been here. I have a business, I have a family, I have employees, I have a clean record in this country – I think I’m the kind of person that you want coming here.

“The small crime offence that I committed 14 years ago in my own town in my own country – it really shouldn’t take this all away from me,” Mr Byrne said on radio following his release. 

It is now a waiting game for the Fermoy man as he hopes his lawyers will find a way for him to remain in Philadelphia as a legal citizen.