The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has published an open letter condemning the impending deportation of Hamza Khan, a Sanctuary Scholar studying at University College Cork (UCC).
The letter is addressed to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor. USI’s letter follows a petition and campaign launched by the UCC Students’ Union in support of Hamza.
Hamza and his family came to Ireland in 2017 from Saudi Arabia. Hamza currently lives in direct provision and is in his first year at UCC studying Computer Science. In December, the family’s application for asylum failed and they were asked to present themselves to immigration officials in Dublin.
Lorna Fitzpatrick, USI president, wrote: “Time and time again, 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.”
She continued, stating: “Staff and students at UCC worked extremely hard to be designated as a University of Sanctuary, and this order issued to Hamza and his family disregards that work.”
The letter concludes with a plea that the ministers use their “discretionary powers to allow Hamza and his family to stay in Ireland”.
UCC is one of five Universities of Sanctuary in Ireland, alongside Dublin City University, University of Limerick, University College Dublin and NUI Galway. Additionally, Athlone IT has been awarded the status of College of Sanctuary in Ireland.