Danny Morrison - Irish Republican News - Ciaran Ferry

**Posted by jfkeav

2145 19TH AVENUE

E-MAIL - editor@irish-herald.com


Irish detainee, Ciaran Ferry, has lost his appeal on a previous immigration court decision denying him political and religious asylum in the United States.

Ferry, who has been in prison in Colorado since January 2003, also had his application for a re-determination of his custody status refused by the Virginia-based Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

The Belfast born man had been living legally in the US with his wife and child--who are both American citizens--when he was called for a green card interview. He was arrested at the interview by immigration officers who ordered that he be deported. Immediate deportation would have banned him from visiting the US for 10 years. Ferry opted to go to prison to fight the order and remain in the US with his wife, Heaven, and his daughter Fiona.

Last November, the lesser court immigration judge, James Vandello, found Ferry ineligible for asylum due to a previous conviction for a "serious" non-political crime in Belfast and went on to state that Ferry's application for asylum was filed too late. In its' ruling in May, the BIA did not add to Vandello's verdict but simply agreed with it.

Neither the BIA nor Judge Vandello made any reference to the question of whether Ferry has been illegally imprisoned by the US government for almost 18 months, a noted absence that was met with criticism by Ferry's lawyer, Eamon Dornan: " The Board point-blank refused to consider the question as to whether or not Ferry is being unconstitutionally detained."

Reports that Ferry was living illegally in the US have been vehemently rejected by Heaven Ferry who spoke to The Irish Herald.

"Ciaran had applied for his green-card and received a temporary work permit, which enabled him to work one year, he was totally legal," she said.

The two primary options being pursued by Ferry's lawyers now include an appeal of the decision made by both legal entities to the Tenth Circuit Court in Colorado and a writ of Habeas Corpus that was filed three months after Ferry was detained. Heaven Ferry highlighted the importance of the latter alternative.

"The writ of Habeas Corpus is essentially what is keeping Ciaran in the country, the government cannot remove him until it has been ruled upon".

This is due to the fact that Ferry must be present at all hearings under the writ.

Ferry, who hails from the Lenadoon area in West Belfast, was arrested in 1993 for an IRA related offence, after two weapons were found in a car in which he was a passenger. He was sentenced to 22 years in prison but was released in 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and married Heaven in August of the same year.

After living in Belfast for a while, the couple learned that Ferry's name was found on a loyalist death list, they fled Ireland for the US where Ferry began the process to gain permanent resident status. In 2001, Heaven gave birth to their daughter, Fiona, who will be three this month and has already spent half of her young life without her father.

"It's a very confusing time for Fiona, she had a routine with her father but that has all changed in the last 16 months," Heaven told the Herald.

She expressed her gratitude for the support she has received in Ireland and the US. "The support in Ireland is huge and whilst Denver only has a small Irish community, there have been rallies in support of Ciaran's situation."

The similar situation of another Belfast man living on the East Coast has attracted the attention of Mrs. Ferry. "The case of Malachy Mc Allister is a class act to follow and hopefully could set a precedent for us."

The recent legal blow would dishearten the staunchest supporters but Heaven is not ready to throw in the towel anytime soon. "We're getting tired but we're not about to give up on Ciaran's release. God knows we deserve it."

Ferry's situation is in a stream of deportation cases that have rocked Irish communities all over the US since 9/11.

The former INS and its' successor, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, have been cracking down on the undocumented Irish, and, as Ferry's case proves, they are showing no mercy even when people do have their papers in order.

More information on the Ferry case is available at


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