Donald Trump

US visa appeal after Cork dad is detained

Relatives of an Irishman facing deportation from the US have launched an online appeal to fund a legal battle to secure his residency.

Keith Byrne, who has been married to a US citizen for 10 years, was detained last week as he made his way to work near his home on the outskirts of Philadelphia.

The incident comes amid President Donald Trump's latest crackdown on illegal immigrants in the US.

Mr Byrne, 37, from Fermoy in Co Cork, moved to the US in 2007. He married his wife Keren in 2009 and the couple have two children - Leona, 6, and Gabriel, 4. He is also stepfather to Mrs Byrne's 13-year-old son Ezra, his family said.

Keith Byrne with his wife Keren and children, Ezra, 13, Leona, 6 and Gabriel, 4.

Keith Byrne with his wife Keren and children, Ezra, 13, Leona, 6 and Gabriel, 4.

Mr Byrne originally travelled to the US on the Visa Waiver Programme but did not leave when his permitted time in the country expired. He has been attempting to secure citizenship for around 10 years.

It is understood those efforts have been complicated by two convictions related to cannabis possession when he was a younger man in Ireland, and he had been concerned about the prospect of deportation.

Mr Byrne, who has his own painting company, was on his way to work when he was arrested by officers from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday morning.

He is now facing deportation back to Ireland, potentially later this month.

A gofundme page set up by a cousin of the family, Jeff Snader, raised around US$19,000 of a US$50,000-target within 48 hours.

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.

Keith Byrne is in custody awaiting deportation from the United States.

Keith Byrne is in custody awaiting deportation from the United States.

"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."

A spokesman for the ICE said: "In 2007, Keith Byrne, 37, a citizen of Ireland, entered the United States as a non-immigrant under the Visa Waiver Programme and failed to depart the United States under the terms of his admission.

"ICE arrested him July 10 for immigration violations and issued him a visa waiver removal order. He is currently in ICE custody pending removal."

 

Former Australian envoy's dig at Ireland over US visas

Former Australian Ambassador to the United States Michael Thawley. Picture: ANU

Former Australian Ambassador to the United States Michael Thawley. Picture: ANU

A former Australian ambassador to the US Michael Thawley has had a non-too-subtle dig at Ireland as the battle for coveted US E3 visas rumbles on.

Currently, Australians have exclusive access to 10,500 of the two-year, renewable work visas each year. But under a bill before congress, which has the support of both President Trump and Democrat leader Nancy Pelosi, Irish citizens will get access to those visas not used by Australians.

Australia’s outgoing Ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey lobbied for the scheme to remain exclusive to this country’s citizens.

Mr Thawley told The Australian that he also believed Australia had a better claim to the visas than any other country. But he also appeared to reference Ireland’s neutrality and problem of undocumented immigrants in justifying his position.

“Australia is a close ally of the US, having fought with it in every major war — not stood on the sidelines,” he was quoted as saying.

“We are a very large investor and employer in the US. And we are a strong and trusted economic partner on financial, tax and other regulatory issues. We don’t pose over-stayer or illegal immigrant issues.”

From 2000 to 2005 the English-born Michael Thawley served as Australia's Ambassador to the United States. Before that, he was international adviser to the former Prime Minister, John Howard, and served in a variety of positions in the Australian Government in Canberra and overseas.

He played a key role, along with Prime Minister Howard, in securing the E3 visa deal for Australia as part of a US-Australia trade agreement.

His comments have not won universal support amoing his former colleagues with one unnamed senior government source telling The Australian: “Immigration policy is the right of the congress of the US. We can’t get too hubristic, otherwise we will guarantee it goes through.”

During his recent visit to Ireland, President Trump was asked about the E3 visa bill.

“I think we’re going to be in good shape [on the bill]”, he said.

“I want to do that for the people of Ireland, but I want to do it for the people that are in the United States that want this vote to happen, that happen to be of Irish descent,” he added.

The Irish government has been approached for comment on Mr Thawley’s remarks.

Trump confirms Irish visit in June

US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Washington DC in March.

US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Washington DC in March.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will visit Ireland while on a visit to Europe in June, a White House spokesman has said.

Mr Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will hold a "bilateral meeting" on June 5 in Shannon.

The trip has already been subject to reported controversy over the venue of the talks.

The president's visit to Ireland is set to be largely private, with Mr Trump expected to base himself at the golf resort he owns in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

Rumours of a disagreement have been reported that focus on whether the meeting with Mr Varadkar would take place on Mr Trump's property at Doonbeg - the president's apparent preference - or on more neutral ground.

Irish authorities reportedly preferred nearby Dromoland Castle.

But Simon Coveney, Ireland's deputy premier, said reports of a stand-off over locations were exaggerated and not true.

On Monday, it was reported that Mr and Mrs Trump would join the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for afternoon tea while on a three-day visit to the UK, which begins on June 3.

The couple will also be guests of the Queen.

The president's formal visit follows a working trip to the UK last summer that sparked demonstrations across the country.

Campaigners are again hoping to fly a blimp, depicting the US president as a nappy-wearing baby, over London, after it was hoisted in Parliament Square during protests against the US leader's last trip.

The protesters have been accused by former Tory chief whip Lord Jopling of "mindless idiocy".

The visit to Ireland and the UK are part of Mr Trump's wider trip to Europe, which will include events in France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Trump set to visit Ireland

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar presents US President Donald Trump with a bowl of shamrock in Washington DC. Picture: Brian Lawless

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar presents US President Donald Trump with a bowl of shamrock in Washington DC. Picture: Brian Lawless

US president Donald Trump has confirmed he will visit Ireland later this year.

Mr Trump told Leo Varadkar that he wanted to make the trip during a meeting with the Taoiseach in the Oval Office in the White House on Thursday.

Mr Varadkar is on his annual St Patrick's Day tour to the United States.

Mr Trump said: "I am coming at some point during the year. I missed it last time and I would've loved to have been there. It's a special place and I have a very warm spot for Doonbeg, I will tell you that, and it's just a great place."

One of Mr Trump's golf courses is in the Co Clare village of Doonbeg.

The Taoiseach presented the US president with a bowl of shamrock to mark his St Patrick's visit to Washington DC. The bowl presented to Mr Trump, in the company of his wife, Melania, was made at Kilkenny Crystal in Callan, the home town of Irish-American architect James Hoban. Mr Hoban designed both Leinster House in Dublin and the president's official residence, the White House.

Mr Varadkar said: "The American economy is booming. More jobs. Rising incomes. Exactly what you said you'd do. However, I believe the greatness of America is about more than economic prowess and military might.

US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office. Picture: Brian Lawless

US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office. Picture: Brian Lawless

"It is rooted in the things that make us love America - your people, your values, a new nation conceived in liberty. The land and the home of the brave and the free."

The Taoiseach added that the futures of the US and Ireland were entwined.

"I believe that future generations of our citizens should have the same opportunity to enrich one another's societies as past generations have," he said.

Mr Trump, who was joined on stage by US vice president Mike Pence, said that millions of Americans across the country celebrate the "inspiring" Irish people on St Patrick's Day.

He also welcomed the Taoiseach's partner Matt Barrett, who also attended the event.

Mr Trump added: "I know many Irish people and they are inspiring, they're sharp, they're smart, they're great and they are brutal enemies so you have to keep them as your friend. Always keep them as your friend.

"You don't want to fight with the Irish, it's too tough, it's too bloody."

He reminded the crowd that the shamrock tradition began almost 70 years ago when Ireland's first ambassador to the United States, John Hearne, gave then US president Harry Truman a small box of it. He added that he accepted the gift as a symbol of America's "enduring friendship" with Ireland.

"The Irish are confident and fearless. They never give up, they never give in," he added.

Earlier, the US president said Brexit was "tearing countries apart".

President Donald Trump, right, talks with, from left, Congressman Richard Neal, Leo Varadkar, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Capitol Hill in Washington. Picture: Susan Walsh

President Donald Trump, right, talks with, from left, Congressman Richard Neal, Leo Varadkar, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Capitol Hill in Washington. Picture: Susan Walsh

The president, who set out his hopes for a "large scale" US-UK trade deal, added that: "I'm not sure anybody knows" what was happening with Brexit.

"It's a very complex thing right now, it's tearing a country apart. It's actually tearing a lot of countries apart and it's a shame it has to be that way but I think we will stay right in our lane," Mr Trump said.

The two leaders discussed Brexit as well as a number of Irish-US specific matters. Afterwards Mr Varadkar said he had a "really good meeting" with President Trump.

"We spoke about Brexit. Needless to say we have very different views on Brexit as to whether it's a good thing, but it was a real opportunity for me to set out Ireland's position, particularly when it comes to protecting the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement and protecting the border."

Mr Varadkar also said the leaders spoke about the issue of the undocumented Irish in the US.

"We talked about immigration. Very strong support from the president around the issue of securing more visas for Irish people to come and work here in the US, and (to) help us solve the issue of tens of thousands of Irish people who came here a long time ago but are undocumented," the Taoiseach said.

Earlier on Thursday US vice-president Mike Pence confirmed he was also planning a trip to Ireland with his mother Nancy. Mr Pence made the comments at a breakfast meeting with Mr Varadkar and his partner at the vice-president's residence in the capital.

During the meeting Mr Varadkar said that he is not judged by his sexual orientation but by his political actions.

"I stand here leader of my country, flawed and human but judged by my political actions and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs." Mr Varadkar added: "I don't believe my country is the only one in the world where this story is possible. It's found in every country were freedom and liberty are cherished. We are, after all, all God's children. And that's true of the United States as well, the land of hope, brave and free."