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The Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers was mentioned in this  Sunday Times (London) article on the story of an undocumented immigrant facing deportation.

Irish migrants in 9/11 backlash

It was meant to be a day of celebration for David Quinn: a cruise on a yacht with friends off New York’s Long Island to commemorate Independence Day. But it unravelled just over an hour later when a routine check by marine police exposed the 30-year-old Sligo man as one of many Irish people working illegally in America, writes Ciara Kenny.

Quinn, who has lived in New York since 2003 and is now awaiting deportation, is the latest non-documented Irish person to be sent home following detection. New figures from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that Irish citizens living and working in the US illegally are being deported at a rate of more than three a week as a post-9/11 clampdown on undocumented immigrants continues.

In the first four months of this year 51 Irish illegal immigrants were sent home.

The total number of Irish illegals deported last year was 118, while 91 were sent home in 2008. Prior to the 9/11 terrorist attack in 2001, the numbers deported were much smaller. In 2000, for example, just 29 Irish people were removed but this rose to 50 in the year of the attack.

Quinn, who had been working illegally as a horsecarriage driver in Central Park, was sailing off Long Island with Gaea Rich, his girlfriend, and a party of friends when federal officials boarded to check papers under a littleknown maritime law.

The boat, which was registered in the Caribbean nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines, was checked as it had a foreign flag. Foreign-registered vessels are required to contact customs officials when they arrive at American ports, even if arriving from another American port.

“It was my first time on a yacht. I never thought I would be caught like that,” said Quinn, describing how the party of 18 people was broken up after customs officials asked to see his ID.

Quinn left Ireland seven years ago to join his three siblings who are now American citizens. “There were more job opportunities out there,” he said. He now faces a 10-year ban on entering America, even on holidays.

Following requests from his lawyer, Quinn was released from a detention centre in New Jersey last Thursday and given 45 days to prepare for his deportation.

The Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers estimates that there are approximately 50,000 undocumented Irish people currently residing in America. The majority of deportees come to the attention of the authorities during routine traffic stops, or when travelling on domestic flights, buses, trains or boats – especially within 100 kilometres of the border with Mexico or Canada, where vehicles are routinely inspected.

“Stories like David Quinn’s are becoming more and more common,” said Kelly Fincham, executive director of the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform.

“It is extraordinarily difficult to secure a work visa for the US, which is why we are seeing an increase in the number of visa overstays.”

The article was printed in the August 1 edition. See the article online (subscription required).

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