Maze escapee Pol Brennan has been cooling his heels in a Texas immigration jail since being detained at a U.S. immigration checkpoint north of Turcotte on January 27 – this for having a lapsed U.S. work permit.
The fact that Brennan had filed the renewal form on time, and that U.S. authorities simply hadn’t updated it at the time he was stopped, was deemed irrelevant.
So too was Britain’s 2000 decision to drop its efforts to extradite Brennan back to Northern Ireland for being one of 38 IRA men who escaped the Maze prison in September 1983.
And Homeland Security prosecutors haven’t been moved by the fact that federal officials had earlier authorized Brennan to live freely in the San Francisco Bay area for years while awaiting the outcome of his political asylum application.
America is far different place today than when Brennan was first arrested in 1993. The U.S. has been waging a “war on terror” since 9/11, and a bourgeoning security apparatus headed by the Department of Homeland Security looks more harshly than before at anyone with even the remotest connection to terrorism.
But “war on terror” realities aren’t the chief reason that Brennan now faces the toughest battle of his 15 year struggle remain in the United States and with his American citizen wife.
Far more pertinent is the fact that his current deportation case is being framed by tough 1996 immigration reforms that scorn most circumstantial considerations and discourage any nuanced interpretations of individual cases by judges.
Like the ‘three-strikes-and-your-out’ criminal laws so popular nationwide in the 1990s, the 1996 immigration reforms mandate black-and-white remedies to deal with undocumented immigrants whose circumstances are can often complicated and mitigating factors.
On the surface, the case against Brennan seems pretty open-and-shut. He has a 1995 felony gun conviction that appears to disqualify him from staying in the U.S. under any circumstance under the rules contained in the 1996 legislation.
He bought the gun from a licensed dealer in the early 1990s. However, by using an alias when buying it, he committed a felony.
Given the clich