The wife of Keith Byrne said that the day her husband was arrested was the “worst thing imaginable” and is now doing everything she can to “get him in front of a judge”.
Keran Byrne spoke to Drivetime this evening about Keith’s current situation in the United States.
The father of three was arrested in a raid by US Immigration and Enforcement (ICE) while on his way to work last week.
When asked where the situation is at now, Ms Byrne said: “The deadline for tomorrow is that he sign a passport application… and once that passport application is signed then ICE can apply for his passport which is what they need to put him on a plane to go home … he has to sign it legally, otherwise he can be charged criminally, because it’s a criminal offence to not comply with deportation.
“He has been left with no choice but to sign this application for a passport.”
Keith, 37, from Fermoy in Co Cork, moved to the US in 2007.
He married Keran 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.
He 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.
Recalling his arrest and becoming emotional during the interview, Ms Byrne said it has been a nightmare.
“Wednesday was just shocking…just the worst thing imaginable,” she said.
“We never considered that they would ever take him… he never was contacted by ICE before that moment… they told us… they told him, they told our lawyer that he was not a person of interest a few years ago.
She added: “He has been here very very documented and trying in every effort to adjust his status… being upfront and open about everything, about his past.”
Ms Byrne said that the information he is getting, other than from her, is through his ICE officer who she said is very one-sided and that he is living in a bubble, being held in a cage.
Their number one goal is to deport him.
“He’s extremely depressed, and feeling guilty about his kids and what’s happening to me…this is not his fault at all.”
Ms Byrne said she needs to get Keith in front of a judge and said that all she has is hope.
She thinks a passport application could take a couple of weeks but didn’t know if it needs to come to the Irish Embassy first.
When asked if she has discussed with Keith what she is going to do, she said their focus is to get him released.
“I’m trying to put all of my energy into getting him in front of a judge,” she said.
“People I’ve never met before are reaching out to support us… we have been getting some political support and it is much needed at this time.”
Listen to the full interview below.