Thousands sign petition calling for deportation of mother-of-three to be stopped
Over 2,000 people have signed a petition to keep a Pakistani student and mother-of-three from deportation.
DCU student’s union (DCUSU) launched a campaign this afternoon against the looming deportation of third year early childhood education student and mother Mehwish Saqib.
For the past four years, Ms Saqib has lived in direct provision in Ireland with her husband and three children aged eight, six and three after fleeing Pakistan when their lives were in danger.
She is studying in DCU under its University of Sanctuary scheme, which provides refugees and asylum seekers in direct provision with scholarships.
Ms Saqib was issued with a letter last week that rejected her leave to remain request, which stated that she had five days to voluntarily leave the country.
In an open letter to Minister Charlie Flanagan, DCUSU urge the minister to halt her deportation.
“Should she be deported, she will be faced with death threats from the very people who drove her out of the country eight years ago. She will not be safe," the letter reads.
"Despite her challenging living circumstances in Direct Provision, she has overcome great odds to advance academically.
“She has contributed so much to this country and has aspirations of continuing to do so, passing her first two years in DCU with flying colours and dreaming of a career in Early Childhood Education," it adds.
The petition currently has gained over 2,000 since it was launched this afternoon.
The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has expressed their support for the 'We Wish for Mehwish' campaign.
USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick told Independent.ie that this is a "human rights issue".
"We stand by DCUSU in their fight in getting the message out and raising awareness on Mehwish’s case," she said.
"We would vehemently encourage everyone to sign it.
"We are calling for anybody who is in university and in direct provision for their rights to education to be protected," she added.
Ms Fitzpatrick also said that Minister Flanagan should be compassionate towards Ms Saqib’s case.
"I think Mr Flanagan should show compassion to Mehwish as she has completed two years of study in DCU and passed with flying colours while living in difficult circumstances of direct provision.
"She has a right to education and she should be allowed to access education as a whole," she added.
DCUSU said that Ms Saqib will face death threats upon her return to Pakistan.
"Despite her challenging living circumstances in Direct Provision, she has overcome great odds to advance academically. She has contributed so much to the DCU community and has aspirations of continuing to do so," reads a statement from DCUSU.
"Should she be deported, she will be faced with death threats from the very people who drove her out of Pakistan, and our community will be worse in her absence.
"We believe that all University of Sanctuary students should be able to complete their degrees in DCU, free from the risk of deportation," it adds.
The department of Justice declined to comment on individual cases.
This is not the first time DCUSU has campaigned against the deportation of a University of Sanctuary student.
Last year, the union launched a campaign to save Shepherd Machaya, originally from Zimbabwe, from being deported. He was also studying in the university under its University of Sanctuary scheme.
While several extensions were granted by the department of justice to keep Mr Machaya in the country, his case is yet to be finalised.