The proposed deportation of four young Cork brothers and their family has been described as “immoral” and “devastating” by the principal of the Cork school they attended.
University College Cork has joined forces with Coláiste Éamann Rís in a campaign to stop the four Khan brothers and their family being deported this week.
Hamza, Zubair, Umair and Mutjuba Khan, along with their sister Shazadi and parents Mubeen and Hina Mubeen, are facing deportation from Ireland having been refused international protection in this country.
The four brothers, their parents and sister have been living in direct provision since arriving in Ireland from Saudi Arabia in 2017.
Zubair, a fifth-year student, Umair, a Transition year student and Mutjuba, a second-year student are studying at Coláiste Éamann Rís Cork City.
Their older brother, Hamza, is a past pupil, who completed his Leaving Certificate in 2019.
Hamza was awarded the UCC sanctuary scholarship and was enrolled in first-year computer science in September 2019.
Aaron Wolfe, principal of Coláiste Éamann Rís, said he is concerned that the move to deport the four brothers will have catastrophic consequences for their education and emotional wellbeing.
He said Hamza will lose his scholarship and the three younger brothers will be moved to an unfamiliar education system in the middle of their studies.
“The Khan brothers have been a huge addition to our school,” said Mr Wolfe.
“They have spoken at national events on the struggles of teenage asylum seekers and have helped to spread awareness of the plight of refugees.
“We are proud of the progress they have made since becoming a part of our school community and we are devastated to learn that their future with us is now in danger,” he added.
“Hamza’s progression to UCC is testament to this family’s love of learning – they are ambitious, capable individuals who wish to make a life for themselves here in Ireland, where they will become independent and contributing members of Irish society.
“They have become part of our school and wider community - Mutjuba even has a Cork accent.
“To remove this family from our country is immoral and will have devastating effects on their education.
“The future of these four brothers is at risk – Hamza will lose his third level placement and the boys will struggle fitting into a new education system.”
In 1984, Mubeen and his wife Hina Mubeen left Pakistan to escape persecution and went to Saudi Arabia.
Their five children were born in Saudi Arabia.
In 2016, the new King of Saudi Arabia passed anti-immigrant laws and introduced taxes on each individual immigrant that would increase every year.
All four brothers had to drop out of school to work to pay their individual taxes.
However, Mubeen lost his job due to new rules favouring the employment of Saudi citizens.
Unable to pay their taxes and fearful of being sent back to Pakistan, the family fled to Europe.
Now, they are in danger of being deported to the UK.
The campaign to keep the Khans in Cork is supported by UCC, and the trust body of Coláiste Éamann Rís Cork City, the Edmund Rice Schools Trust, that represents 96 schools nationwide.
The Sanctuary Working Group at UCC has appealed to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to stop the removal of Hamza Khan.