Don’t deport Malachy McAllister

April 21, 2016

Activists are urgently stepping up efforts to stop the imminent deportation of Malachy McAllister on April 25, reports Joan McKiernan.

THE OBAMA administration's Department of Homeland Security abruptly changed the status of Malachy McAllister in late March, triggering a possible deportation as soon as April 25 of McAllister, a former member of an Irish paramilitary group who fled Ireland because of threats to his life and family.

"I am shocked and deeply saddened that, after 20 years, I am to be ripped from my family, my infant son, my business and community to a country I had to flee from nearly 30 years ago to bring my young family to safety," said McAllister in reaction to news of the change in his status.

McAllister served more than three years in prison in Northern Ireland for being a lookout when a British police officer was shot and wounded. After he served his time, the Red Hand Commandos, a pro-British group, fired 26 shots into his house while his mother-in-law and children were at home. That's when he fled with his family to the U.S. in search of political asylum.

"If there's ever a case that leaps out for compassion and exception, this is the guy," said Rep. Bill Pascrell after he and McAllister met in mid-April. "He served his time in Ireland, came here because his house was shot up and his children were in jeopardy, and he's been here 20 years, been a good citizen."

Malachy McAllister
Malachy McAllister

McAllister's supporters have launched a petition calling on the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office to again exercise its policy of "prosecutorial discretion" for low-priority immigration, which would allow McAllister to remain in the U.S.

IF FURTHER evidence were needed, McAllister's case is proof positive that political asylum in the U.S. for those fleeing persecution is a thing of the past, another American ideal that has bitten the dust.

Donald Trump spews his racism and threatens Muslims and immigrants. But deporting Muslims and other asylum seekers is nothing new. It is now as American as apple pie. The truth is that the denial of political asylum and the deportation of people seeking protection in the U.S. have been happening on an unprecedented scale.

While the ideal enshrined on the Statue of Liberty never lived up to expectations, it has taken a serious hammering from the Obama administration. During his presidency, the "deporter-in-chief" has expelled more foreigners than any other president. According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data, since taking office until 2015 Obama has "removed" or "returned," a government euphemism, a total of 2,878,672 people. The government no longer uses the term deportation, they report on "removals" or "returns," as if they were bits of paper or other commodity. But these are human beings who have fled from dangerous situations to seek protection in the U.S.

Thousands of women and children who fled violence have been sent back to dangerous areas in Central America. Earlier this month, the Obama administration deported 85 Muslim and Sikh asylum seekers from Bangladesh, India, and Nepal who were seeking asylum after fleeing repression and violence in their home countries. They crossed three continents looking for safety. Now they have been returned to countries where they face arrest or death. Also this month an Irish immigrant who has lived in this country for 20 years has received an order of removal.

This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments on the legal challenge made to the president's executive order which would allow 4.7 million people--mostly the parents of undocumented children--to stay in the U.S. without the threat of deportation. Crowds gathered at the Supreme Court over the weekend, waiting for the hearing, many bearing signs and chanting slogans like "¡Sí, se puede!" ("Yes we can!"). The order, Deferred Action for Parents of American and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), has been challenged by Texas and 25 other states. From the questions and statements made during the hearing, it does not seem likely that the Court will support the president's order.

Even if the Supreme Court agrees with the order, it will be too late for all the children who are being rounded up and deported--many of them without any court hearings. Unprecedented numbers of immigrant children started showing up at the southern U.S. border in the fall of 2013. Many traveled without an adult and said they were fleeing rising gang violence in Honduras and El Salvador. The government filed deportation cases against more than 60,000 minors since that time. At least 7,706 of them were ordered removed after they failed to show up in court. Lawyers are concerned that many of these children never got notices of court hearings.

MALACHY McALLISTER fled Belfast after a political assassination attempt, which has been shown to be a result of collusion between British military intelligence and pro-British paramilitaries. He and his family went to Canada first, then to the U.S. in search of political asylum. That was 20 years ago. He has been living here ever since. He has been raising his family; he has been building businesses; he has supported the Northern Ireland peace process; he has not been charged with any crime.

During the hunger strike for political status in the 1980s, Malachy had joined the Irish National Liberation Army. He was jailed for serving as a lookout during an attack on the police there. Since then he has not participated in politics or paramilitary activity. But he was denied political asylum and has been living under the threat of deportation all this time. Now, for no apparent reason, Obama's ICE has issued a deportation order for next Monday, April 25.

Since he lost his asylum case, the British government has issued a report that confirms Malachy's claim that his life was threatened. Sir Desmond de Silva was commissioned to investigate charges of collusion between security forces and Loyalist armed groups in Northern Ireland. Declassified military intelligence documents disclosed in the report revealed that McAllister had been targeted for assassination by loyalists--with the knowledge and support of the security services in Northern Ireland.

When the McAllister family's appeal was being heard in 2006, the judge ruled against him, explaining that there was no legal option. However, her remarks about the immigration system are revealing. "I refuse to believe that 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free' is now an empty entreaty," said Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, who is--believe it or not--the sister of xenophobic presidential candidate Donald Trump. "But if it is, shame on us." She went on to add:

We cannot be the country we should be if...we knee-jerk remove decent men and women merely because they may have erred at one point in their lives. We should look a little closer; we should care a little more. I would ask--no, I would implore--the Attorney General to exercise his discretion and permit this deserving family to stay.

At that time, the Department of Homeland Security allowed the McAllisters to remain under its "prosecutorial discretion" policy for low-priority immigrants, which was renewed annually until this year.

Obama seems determined to end his time in the White House by showing that he is the "go-to guy" for deportation, no matter what your race or your reason for coming to America's shores.

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