UCC Student and Family Relieved From Deportation

Andrea Andres looks into Hamza Khan's reprieve from deportation.

UCC Sanctuary Scholar Hamza Khan and his family have been granted a reprieve from deportation following an intervention from Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan. They were to return back to the UK if Ireland had refused to grant them international protection. 

According to a joint statement from the University College Cork’s Student Union and the Sanctuary Working Group: “Proceedings have been issued by the family’s legal representatives, seeking a judicial review of the case. Under High Court rules the Khan family cannot be removed until these proceedings are determined. However, an Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD amongst others, have personally intervened to ask Minister Charlie Flanagan TD to review the case.” 

“There has been no statement by Minister Flanagan regarding a potential Ministerial review. Since the family’s future in Ireland remains uncertain, we are seeking clarity from the Minister on his intentions regarding this case.” 

They will be “continuing a public campaign in the coming weeks to support Hamza and the Khan family’s case to remain in Ireland. We call on all public representatives, including current candidates for election in Cork city, to support us."

The student community of UCC has given him an outpouring of support. Karl Kitching, Director of Inclusion at UCC has shown his support for Hamza Khan and his family. Speaking on the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM, he said: “We learned about the proposed removal of the Khan family on Friday and . . . it is our role as a university of sanctuary to speak out to plead with the Minister for Justice to intervene. He does have the power to intervene and to make the right decision for this family,” UCC’s student union has also created a petition on change.org two weeks ago. As of writing, the petition has amassed more than 7,000 signatures of their goal of 10,000. 

Mr. Khan’s parents fled Pakistan in 1984 because of persecution. They settled in Saudi Arabia where he and his four siblings were born. They had to leave Saudi Arabia in 2017 after tough taxation laws were imposed on foreigners. Mr. Khan’s father, Mubeen, also lost his job in a drapery. The family faced deportation back to Pakistan after they were unable to pay their taxes. They moved to Ireland through the UK. 

Due to the support UCC has given Hamza Khan and his family, the founder of Immigration Control Platform (ICP) Áine Ní Chonaill is withdrawing an endowment worth “several hundreds of thousands” of euro to UCC where she was a former student. According ICP’s wesbite,  it advocates for stricter immigration laws and “aims at a very rigorous policy in relation to asylum-seekers, refugees, and a determined response to all illegal immigration.” She claims that UCC has demonstrated “unacceptable arrogance” for demanding that the Khan family stay despite failing their asylum application. 

She said that: “[Her] quarrel is with UCC effectively taking the position that once they have given a sanctuary scholarship to someone in the asylum process they must not, and their family must not be removed from the country,” 

In 2018, UCC was declared a University of Sanctuary. It now offers Sanctuary Scholarships to refugees and asylum seekers looking to pursue third-level education. Since the scheme began in 2018, 14 scholarships have been awarded so far. 

In response, UCC stated that: “Since becoming a University of Sanctuary in 2018, UCC offers a pathway to education for asylum seekers and refugees, who obtain the required academic merit. UCC will continue to support equality and diversity in society.”