John Cunningham, a Glencolmcille native who had been living undocumented in the USA has been arrested for immigration violations.
The former chairman of the Boston Northeast GAA (pictured above) had been living in the city since 1999 as an undocumented immigrant.
The 38-year-old was arrested last Friday and is being held at the South Bay House of Correction in Boston awaiting deportation.
“Cunningham is currently in ICE custody pending removal from the United States. Visa waiver programme participants waive their rights to a hearing before an immigration judge and are subject to mandatory detention,” a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department told the Irish Times.
Cunningham had expressed his fears over his illegal status in the US previously in an RTE Prime TIme programme last March. He entered the country lawfully under the visa waiver programme but remained there as he settled into the community.
“Years go in fast, and then all of a sudden you end up with commitments here… you’re married here, you have a home you have a job and work and then it becomes your home,” he told RTE Prime Time this year.
Cunningham had said that he hoped government policies would change to address the issue.
“You have to keep hoping that something will change and I think eventually something will have to because sooner or later some party is going to have to look at immigration and say we’ve got to figure out an avenue to make this work,” he said.
Cunningham moved to the US in 1999 and said he hadn’t been home in 16 years. His arrest last week has raised anxieties among the undocumented Irish in the US who fear they too could be arrested and sent home.
There are an estimated 11 million people living illegally in the USA. President Trump has spoken out about how those people are subject to deportation at any time. ICE reported that they have arrested over 41,000 undocumented immigrants in the first 100 days of President Trump’s administration, a 38% increase from the same time period in 2016.