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Irish Voice News
Progress in Brennan Deportation
November 19, 2008
By Cahir O’Doherty
AFTER nearly 11 months of imprisonment (including four months in solitary confinement) it looks like former Maze prison escapee Pol Brennan may finally have his request for asylum granted. In a hearing on Thursday U.S. immigration judge William Peterson expressed his surprise that the Department of Homeland Security had no plan to charge Brennan with terrorism.
Mike Cleveland, a spokesperson for the campaign to have Brennan released, told the Irish Voice, “During the trial the judge asked the Department of Homeland Security if they were going to charge him with terrorism, because every other charge against him had already been wavered. They said no. The judge looked incredulous when he heard that.”
Brennan was originally arrested by border guards in south Texas on January 27 for having a lapsed U.S. work permit, and he has been in U.S. custody ever since. On Thursday Brennan told a Texas court that he feared he would be attacked if he was sent back to Ireland.
Although all British extradition requests to Northern Ireland were dropped as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agree-ment, Brennan’s immigration status was never fully resolved, leading to his arrest in January. In recent years Brennan had remained in the U.S. under a succession of work permits, living in San Francisco where he worked as a carpenter.
Brennan told the court last week that he is hoping for political asylum and a green card on the basis of his 10-year marriage to his American wife Joanna Volz, who is expected to testify this Friday. Brennan hopes to convince the authorities that he should not be deported, but rather granted political asylum or given permanent residency.
“The judge will soon issue a written decision. Should it go in favor of Pol it will be reviewed by the Immigration Board of Appeal within 60 days,” said Cleveland.
“The judge indicated that he would release his own decision by Thanksgiving. Our mood in the campaign is rather upbeat now since it seems the judge was startled to hear that the Department of Homeland Security would not be charging him with terrorism.”
Brennan is currently being held in Willacy Prison in Raymondville, Texas while he awaits judge Peterson’s ruling. Cleveland said that he was beginning to feel optimistic about Brennan’s chances.
“The judge could not believe that they were not making a charge of terrorism against him. Pol very frankly stated that he was never a sworn member of the IRA,” said Cleveland.
“He admitted that he supported their objectives and did them favors, however. My feeling is he’ll get his resident alien status granted.”
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