29 Sept 2022

Donegal man arrested and facing deportation

Donegal man arrested and facing deportation

The Irish community in America are anxious following the arrest and impending deportation of a Glencolmcille man living illegally in the Boston area.

John Cunningham, 38, a former chairman of the Boston Northeast GAA, was arrested by immigration and customs enforcement officers at a residence in Boston last Friday.

The native of Glencolmcille had been living in the United States since 1999 and had not returned to Ireland in 16 years. He featured in an RTÉ Prime Time programme broadcast in March in which he talked about living as an undocumented individual in the country.

His detention has sparked fears of further arrests of undocumented Irish living in Massachusetts under the Trump administration.

Mr Cunningham was arrested for “immigration violations,” a spokesman for ICE, Khaalid Walls told The Irish Times.

The Donegal man “entered the country lawfully under the visa waiver programme but failed to depart in compliance with the terms of his visit,” he said.

The Donegal man is being held at the South Bay House of Correction, part of the Suffolk County jail system in Boston.

The visa waiver programme permits visitors to travel to the US for tourism, business or while in transit for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa. Overstaying the term of the programme is one of the most common ways that undocumented Irish enter the country.

Explaining why he continued living undocumented in the US for so long, Mr Cunnnigham told RTÉ’s Prime Time in its March programme that time passes quickly and the illegal Irish find themselves married and with a job and that eventually the US becomes “your home”.


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