BY STEVE WARSHELL
CLEVELAND - Former Irish political prisoner Noel Cassidy was denied an adjustment of his immigration status on April 22 in Federal Court. Cassidy, who has been living in the United States for 17 years, is threatened with deportation. The case has been remanded to the Bureau of Immigration Appeals and combined with a separate petition filed previously.
In spite of facts submitted to the court concerning his arrest and conviction in Ireland, immigration judge Elizabeth Hacker denied Cassidy's petition for adjustment solely on the grounds that his marriage to a U.S. citizen ended in divorce several months ago. Supporters of Cassidy's fight came from Cleveland, Akron, Lorain, Columbus, and Youngstown in Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania to show their support at the hearing.
Speaking to the supporters after the hearing, Jack Kilroy, Regional Director of Irish Northern Aid, said, "Judge Hacker's decision was anticipated but nonetheless disappointing." Cassidy thanked supporters around the country adding, "We want you to know that we will continue the fight." Cassidy was first arrested by U.S. officials at gun point outside his Maryland home in December 1990 on the charge of illegally entering the United States.
On June 11, 1998, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) added a further charge of "conspiracy to kill a member of the British Armed Forces." The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) has submitted an affidavit in support of the INS case.
Cassidy was originally arrested in February 1978 and charged with being an intelligence officer for the Irish Republican Army. After spending 13 months in jail awaiting trial he was convicted in one of the infamous "Diplock" courts set up by the British occupation forces in Northern Ireland. These juryless proceedings relied on cop-supplied evidence to convict and imprison thousands of Irish fighters.
In Cassidy's case, the perjured testimony of a British Officer was the basis of his 23-month sentence in Long Kesh Prison. While serving the sentence Cassidy joined with other Irish republicans prisoners in fighting to end brutal prison treatment and win political status and he became one of the hunger strikers, 10 of whom died during the strike.
Released following the end of his sentence in 1981, Cassidy toured the United States explaining the conditions that led to the protest and defending the remaining hunger strikers. He married a U.S. citizen during the tour and both moved back to Ireland to live. Unable to find work due to his arrest and imprisonment, and constantly harassed by police, they decided to return to the United States. Cassidy, however, was denied a visa to enter the country. Eventually the two took up residence in the Washington, D.C. area and lived there until his arrest in 1990. A year later an immigration judge ordered him deported to Ireland. No dates have been set for further hearings.
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home