Bridie Murphy, the 79-year-old Irish immigrant from West Roxbury who faced deportation after her green card was confiscated by federal border agents at Logan Airport, says she is "happy and relieved" to learn that US immigration officials agreed to drop proceedings against her.
And she will now seek US citizenship, so the situation will never arise again.
Officials at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency dropped deportation proceedings against Mrs. Murphy after being contacted by the Globe.
Mrs. Murphy has been a legal permanent resident since 1979, was married to a US citizen and had four children, all US citizens, two of whom are members of the US military. Her son, Patrick Murphy, is a sergeant in the US Army, currently deployed in Kuwait. Another son, Peter Murphy, has been in the US Air Force for 20 years.
Mrs. Murphy surrendered her green card to US Customs and Border Protection agents at Logan Airport last April when she returned from an 11-month visit to her daughter in Rosmuc, the village in Connemara in the west of Ireland where she grew up. Mrs. Murphy has lived in the same house in West Roxbury since 1988 and has most of her family in the Boston area and didn't want to give up her legal residency status.
But she said she gave up the card under pressure from border agents during a three-hour interrogation at Logan Airport after returning from Ireland.
While green cards become technically invalid after someone is out of the country for more than a year, US officials are entitled to challenge someone's residency status even if they have been outside the United States for less than a year, according to Lucille Cirillo, a spokeswoman for the US Customs and Border Protection. Before leaving for an extended stay with her daughter, Mrs. Murphy had checked with US immigration officials and said she was told her residency status would not be affected as long as she did not stay out of the country for more than a year.
Chris Lavery, a Canton lawyer representing Mrs. Murphy free of charge, arrived at the federal immigration court downtown today to find that ICE lawyers had already filed a motion to dismiss the case before Immigration Judge Leonard Shapiro, so it is unlikely that Mrs. Murphy will have to appear in court Nov. 17 as originally scheduled.
Mrs. Murphy has been entitled to apply for US citizenship since shortly after her 1957 marriage in Jamaica Plain to US citizen Patrick Murphy, but was intimidated by the process and was satisfied with her permanent legal residency status, which she obtained in 1979. But, given her experience, Lavery said that will change.
"Our next step is to take Bridie through the citizenship process," said Lavery. "We're going to help her every step of the way."
Mrs. Murphy's daughter, Anne Marie Cahalane, described as "fantastic" the news that the federal government had dropped its deportation proceedings.
Peter Murphy said the family was grateful to the Globe and especially to Lavery and Kieran O'Sullivan, an immigration counselor at the Irish Pastoral Centre in Quincy, which took on Mrs. Murphy's case.
Without such help, "we'd be fighting a system that individuals alone can't win," said Peter Murphy.
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