ic Derry - Detained Derry Men Could Be Held For A Year

Detained Derry Men Could Be Held For A Year Jan 20 2004

THREE DERRY men being held in the US awaiting deportation have been told that they could be held there for up to a year before being sent back to Ireland.

Don Brown, Damien McCafferty and David Curtis were arrested when they arrived at Boston Airport in November after irregularities on their immigration forms.

All three were accused of lying about previous convictions on their waiver forms and held in custody.

On November 26 the three pleaded guilty to the charge of 'fraudulent use of a visa' and were sentenced to time served and ordered deported to Ireland.

Each of the three was also placed on supervised release for three years.

Following the hearing the three were handed over to the immigration authorities to organise their deportation.

Since then the three have been held in custody in the US and have now been told officially that they will definitely not be deported until at least March 1.

Supporters in the US are hoping to mount a campaign to highlight the case of the three and demand their immediate deportation.

The three have started a letter writing campaign to appeal to politicians both here and in the US to try and have their deportation brought forward.

In the letter the three men appeal to the politician's 'sense of justice' and ask them to use their political power to 'help us leave this legal limbo and return home to our families and our businesses.'

The men point out that they have been held in custody for 70 days and still have no indication of when they will be returned to Ireland.

The letter points out that since the time they were ordered deported there have been seats available on every Aer Lingus flight going from Boston to Dublin.

The three point out that their detention entails being locked up 24 hours a day with no fresh air or any exercise at all.

They said: sIn fact, we have not even seen the light of day since then.

"There are no windows and we are under fluorescent lights night and day. Neither do we have access to reading materials whatsoever.

"We are locked up with immigrants who have committed primarily violent crimes and who number approximately 250 men in total."

One of the three, David Curtis, pointed out that he had made 22 previous trips to the US in the last 15 years.

The three added: "Many of the staff that work here at South Bay Correctional Institute are in shock. They say, in 30 years of employment, that we are the only tourists they have seen who are imprisoned like this.

"Our lawyer, Judge William Joyce, said that, in his career as a judge, he has never seen a case like this involving Irish citizens."

They added: "We have recently been told by James Morrison, the Irish Consular in Boston, that the INS informed him that we will not be released before the 1st of March and that they have the right to detain us for an entire year if they so desire.

"We are outraged at this treatment and blatant disregard for our human right to be free after we've served our sentence. We are not trying to stay in the US."

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