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Woman Who Fled Northern Ireland Decade Ago Faces Deportation

February 28, 1992

DENVER (AP) _ A 35-year-old woman who fled her native Northern Ireland a decade ago after a terrorist’s bomb rocked her home faces deportation now that immigration officials have denied her request for political asylum.

Soft-spoken widow Maureen Farrell has received an outpouring of support since her plight was publicized earlier this month.

Seven men have proposed marriage, which could help her stay in the United States. Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., urged the head of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to review her case.

″Ms. Farrell presents no plausible threat to this country,″ Schroeder wrote INS Commissioner Gene McNary. ″Indeed, she has been a hard-working and productive member of her community.″

Farrell, a legal assistant in Denver, has a 4-year-old daughter, Jamie, who was born in the United States and thus is a U.S. citizen. The child’s father, an Irish citizen, died in Denver three years ago of complications from diabetes.

The INS rejected Farrell’s application for asylum and refused to grant her a deferment on account of her daughter, saying INS policies do not take children into account when a parent is seeking residency, even if the children are U.S. citizens.

Farrell could have become a citizen by going underground after her visa expired, becoming eligible for an amnesty law passed by Congress in 1986. Last Christmas Eve, the INS ordered her to leave the country by Jan. 17, but extended the deadline four months on the condition she drop further appeals.

Farrell came to the United States in 1981, after her apartment building was rocked by a bomb.

″I’ve never asked for favors or handouts,″ she said. ″All I ask is to be allowed to stay here and work and give my daughter what I can’t give her anywhere but in America.″

Farrell said she is overwhelmed by the public support.

″I’m very grateful, but I feel awkward not being able to respond to everyone,″ she said. ″I’ve been answering the phone all day.″

After The Denver Post first publicized Farrell’s story and gave out the unpublished number for the INS, dozens of callers phoned the agency, which disconnected the line.

Farrell said she has declined the marriage proposals, which could help her stay. One man appeared at her doorstep. Farrell said a marriage of convenience is out of the question.

″Never,″ she said. ″What kind of example would I set for my daughter?″

People throughout Colorado have urged the INS to change its policy in Farrell’s case.

″I’m so upset,″ said supporter Helen Litten of Alamosa. ″If our Bill of Rights doesn’t mean anything anymore, we might as well all forget it.″

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