ORELAND, Pa. - A man who was scooped up by ICE last month is out of custody for a month as his family fights his possible deportation.
The reminders of last week's tearful reunion with his wife and children are still stuck to the front door of Keith Byrne's Oreland, Montgomery County home.
Byrne came to Philadelphia back in 2007 from his home in Fermoy, Ireland, outside of Cork. He was here to visit his cousins and fully expected to go back home but fell in love with Philly. Byrne overstayed his visa and got married to Keren. The two started a family and a commercial painting business.
"I've come here and not once have I put my hand out for any assistance at all," he told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. "I don't fit the category of an 'illegal immigrant.' I've been very persistent in trying to fix all that. for a long, long, time."
Byrne was 10 years into his ongoing court battle to gain 'permanent resident' status, which was an effort greatly complicated by a pair of minor marijuana possessions citations in Ireland as a young man. He was scooped up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who tailed him on his way to work on the morning of July 10.
"And when they came to my window, I realized it was ICE. They said my time was up, basically," Bryne explained.
After 15 days behind bars in Pike County, Byrne was ordered released by a federal judge, to continue his change of status fight That ruling makes clear the government can re-detain or re-institute removal proceedings at any time once the 30 days are up.
So now he waits for his attorney to save the day. Byrne says he follows this country's debate over illegal immigration.
"I strongly believe that I've achieved the 'Great American Dream. So what's the problem? I'm not a problem just move on to the next person who is a problem."