Republic of Ireland news

Fears in Irish-American community following US immigration arrests

Co Donegal man John Cunningham faces deportation from the US. Picture from RTÉ
Staff Reporter

AN immigration lawyer in the US has said there is "a great deal of fear in the Irish-American community" following the arrests of several Irish citizens over their legal status.

Co Donegal man John Cunningham (38), a former chairman of Boston Northeast GAA, was among those held.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that he was in custody pending deportation.

A spokesman said he was arrested on Friday for "immigration violations", claiming he had "entered the country lawfully under the Visa Waiver Program, but failed to depart in compliance with the terms of his visit".

The Republic's Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed it was aware of the arrests and was providing consular assistance in Mr Cunningham's case.

According to US Immigration, Visa Waiver Program participants - who are entitled to stay for 90 days - "waive their rights to a hearing before an immigration judge and are subject to mandatory detention".

Mr Cunningham was interviewed on RTÉ's Prime Time in March in a programme about illegal immigrants in the US.

John Foley, an immigration lawyer based in Boston, said "there's a great deal of fear in the Irish-American community and in the Irish community".

He told RTÉ he had spoken to Mr Cunningham on Sunday and the Donegal man's "world has been turned upside down".

President Donald Trump has vowed to take tougher action against undocumented immigrants since taking office.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said there has not been an increase in the number of deportations of Irish citizens from the US to date this year.

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