Undocumented Irish Unexpectedly Caught In Trump’s Immigration Dragnet : NPR

Always interesting to see who gets caught when the net is cast so wide. While the Irish man caught is the focus of the story, the overall data is revealing:

The Trump administration has been aggressively deporting foreign nationals home around the globe, from Somalia to Slovakia. Though Mexicans, Central Americans and Haitians make up nine out of 10 people removed from the United States, year-end figures analyzed by NPR show that deportations to the rest of the world have jumped 24 percent.

Some are from formerly “recalcitrant” countries that used to reject U.S. deportees but have now agreed to take them home. These nations include Guinea, Cuba, Bangladesh, Iraq, Vietnam and Afghanistan. Moreover, agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, are arresting more immigrants in the interior of the U.S. who have overstayed their visas.

A case in point — the unauthorized Irish in Boston.

“It’s really indiscriminate. ICE, in their aggressive tactics of detention, are going after the Irish as much as they’re going after any other nationality,” says Ronnie Millar, director of the Irish International Immigrant Center in Boston.

Sitting in the visiting room of the Suffolk County House of Corrections, Dylan O’Riordan, 19, wears a lemon-yellow jail jumpsuit and a bewildered expression on his pale face.

“I was aware how with Trump immigration was going to get a lot harder, but I didn’t pay as much mind to it as I should have, which was my first mistake,” he says.

O’Riordan was born in Galway, Ireland. Both of his parents had lived in Massachusetts before he was born and already had green cards. They brought Dylan from Ireland to the Boston area in 2010 on a visitor’s visa when he was 12 years old. He overstayed his 90-day visa, and began living his life like any other American teenager, though he was unauthorized.

At 19, he had a child with his girlfriend, Brenna, then dropped out of high school and went to work for his uncle’s roofing company. About four months ago, he and Brenna were shopping at a mall when they got into an argument. “It was nothing at all,” he says. “Some woman called the cops, said I was abusing my girlfriend.”

O’Riordan was arrested for domestic assault and battery, but Brenna refused to file charges. The county chose not to prosecute. O’Riordan had no prior criminal record, so the judge let him go.

Immigrants who overstay their visas are at a unique disadvantage compared to immigrants who illegally cross the border. When they apply for their visa, they waive their right to an immigration hearing if they end up staying after their visa expires.

O’Riordan’s lawyer, Tony Marino, points out that his client was brought here when he was a child, but ICE won’t budge.

“Their position has been, well, he waived whatever rights he had when he came,” says Marino. “Twelve year olds don’t waive rights! I’ve never seen anything like it. I can’t wrap my head around it.”

The ICE office in Boston sent a statement to NPR: “Dylan O’Riordan … overstayed the terms of his admission by more than seven years. ICE deportation officers encountered him in Sept 2017 after he was arrested on local criminal charges. ICE served him with an administrative final order of removal.” He is scheduled to be put on a plane to Dublin later this week.

“You look American, you sound American.”

Dylan O’Riordan is not an isolated case. Irish visa overstayers have been swept up in the administration’s nationwide immigration dragnet. Under strict new rules, anyone here illegally is a target — whether they’re convicted of a crime or not. In 2017, ICE deported 34 undocumented Irish, up from 26 the year before. The numbers are tiny compared to the 128,765 Mexicans ejected from the country last year, but in Boston’s closeknit Irish community the wave of arrests is big news.

via Undocumented Irish Unexpectedly Caught In Trump’s Immigration Dragnet : NPR

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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