Hamza Khan, the first-year University College Cork (UCC) student issued with a deportation order last week, has been granted a reprieve along with his family after widespread opposition to their planned expulsion.
Khan, who studies computer science in UCC on a University of Sanctuary scholarship, was issued with the deportation order last Friday. A petition was quickly launched calling on Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to revoke the order to Khan and his family, gathering almost 7,000 signatures.
Launched by University College Cork Students’ Union (UCCSU), the petition stated that the removal of Hamza and his family from the state would put an end to their meaningful access to higher education”.
“Students and staff fought and worked incredibly hard for UCC to be designated a University of Sanctuary”, it added. “We fought hard so refugees and asylum seekers alike could access higher education and improve their lives and education.”
In an open letter addressed to Flanagan earlier this week, Lorna Fitzpatrick, the president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) wrote: “It is with deep regret that once again, I write to you to ask for you to stop the intended removal from the state of another Sanctuary Scholar.”
“Time and time again”, Fitzpatrick added, “we have made the case that it is an injustice to try to expel someone from a country when they have been offered a scholarship to study here, under an initiative that is supposed to protect and offer refuge and opportunity”.
Khan’s whole family faced the threat of expulsion after receiving the deportation order last Friday. The family arrived in Ireland in 2017.
Aaron Wolfe, the principal of Coláiste Eamann Rís, where Hamza’s three brothers attend secondary school, said Tánaiste Simon Coveney contacted him on Wednesday evening to say Flanagan planned to review the case.
Wolfe told the Irish Times that “the Khan family are obviously overjoyed at today’s news and thank the people of Ireland for coming to their aid in their time of need”.