A prominent Boston man nabbed by ICE last month for overstaying his visa by more than a decade has been sent back to Ireland, and the city’s Irish community is still worried about further deportations, an advocate said.

John Cunningham, 38, was a Brighton-based electrical contractor and chairman of the Gaelic Athletic Association before he was detained June 16 for overstaying a 90-day visa that he used to enter the U.S. in 2003. Cunningham left on a commercial flight Wednesday night, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Shawn Neudauer.

Cunningham had a warrant for his arrest dating back to his failure to show up for a civil court appearance in 2014 over a contracting dispute, but ICE officials said that did not lead to his deportation.

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Community leaders have said they’ve seen increased fear from Irish residents in the state, 12,000 of whom are estimated to be living in Massachusetts illegally.

“ICE is enforcing the law, it’s simple and sometimes painful but they’re just doing their jobs,” said immigration attorney John Foley, a board member of the cultural center Cunningham chaired. “But there’s real fear in the Irish immigrant community, that if you’re out of status, they may come knocking.”

At an Irish immigrant rally yesterday, Irish International Immigrant Center executive director Ronnie Millar said: “These days migrants fleeing desperation, poverty and violence have to wait outside the door and those already here without papers live in fear of being arrested by ICE and being deported. This is no way for society to exist.”

Herald wire services contributed to this report.


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