Brennan, who escaped Northern Ireland’s Maze prison along with 37 other IRA prisoners in September 1983, was driving through Texas en route to visit friends with his American wife when he was detained at the Sarito immigration checkpoint near Brownsville.
Although his initially detained over the work permit, prosecutors at that Port Isabel Immigration Court in Los Fresnos, Texas have since reactivated a dormant deportation case against relating to his illegal entry into the U.S. after the escape.
Britain dropped its efforts to have him extradited him back to Northern Ireland in 2000, proceedings it had pursued ever since the FBI caught the Belfast native living under an alias in Berkley, Calif. in 1993.
During the years when Britain sought his extradition, Brennan was freed on bond twice and never violated the terms of his release.
However, Department of Homeland Security prosecutors in Texas are vehemently opposed to granting him bail now.
Until last week, they’d argued that Brennan qualifies for mandatory detention without bail because he has a 2006 misdemeanor assault conviction.
Brennan was convicted of beating-up a building contractor who’d refused to pay him $1,000 in wages owed. He paid a $1,500 fine and served 500 hours of community service for the offense.
Prosecutors contend that that conviction automatically subjects him to a 1996 law stipulating that immigration detainees convicted of a crime after Oct. 8, 1998 must serve “mandatory detention” without bail.
Early last month judge Howard Achtsam temporarily suspended proceedings in order to ascertain whether or not an injunction existed preventing him from ruling on Brennan’s case.
However, it has since emerged that the injunction wasn’t against himself, but the Homeland Security prosecutors who’d been sued for denying immigration detainees the right to bond hearings at all on the basis of the 1996 law.
As such, with the injunction still in place barring them from even citing the 1996 mandatory detention clause, prosecutors in Pol Brennan’s case have been forced to withdraw that argument. Instead they’ve been reduced to opposing bail on the grounds that Brennan is an alleged flight risk and a danger to society.
Brennan’s lawyer has argued that his client, a trained carpenter who’s also a certified California housing inspector and a volunteer at a prestigious Oakland planetarium, is no threat to anyone.