Durham academic given 14 days to leave the country plans “to fight this in the courts”
The Home Office have ordered the family of three to leave immediately
Durham Research Fellow and renowned academic Dr. Ernesto Schwartz-Marín has been given 14 days to leave the UK after his visa renewal was denied by the Home Office.
Dr. Schwartz-Marín told The Tab: “They gave us a notice to leave now. They are just threatening me but not giving me anything about help. We have to manage to move to what they call your ‘home country’ – even though we have been living here for over 10 years."
He continued: "I want to take this to the courts. So we are planning how we are going to take this forward."
Asked if he had a message for his students at Durham, who are mostly postgraduates, he told The Tab: "They shouldn’t worry, I am going to try and fulfil my responsibilities."
Dr. Schwartz-Marín, who is from Mexico and has lived in the UK for a number of years with his wife and 11-year-old daughter, is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology and a Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Home Office said: "Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin applied for Indefinite Leave to Remain in October 2017. It was refused on the basis that he was absent from the UK for more than 180 days within the five consecutive 12 month period preceding the date of the application.
"The decision was made taking into account evidence provided by Dr Schwartz-Marin regarding his absences from the United Kingdom."
In a series of tweets last night Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the 'Good Law Project Ltd.', outlined the "horrendous" situation faced by Dr. Schwartz after receiving a letter from the Home Office denying the renewal of his visa.
"The appeal to renew his visa has been refused, on the basis of fieldwork and humanitarian work he did outside the country. All legal avenues seem to be gone", he wrote.
Professor Tim Clark, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Social Sciences and Health) at Durham University, said: "We are not able to comment on personal circumstances. However, we are committed to supporting our staff wherever possible and we are providing such support in this instance.”
Jon Bryan, UCU Regional Support Official, told The Tab: "That is a pretty grim reality for any family to be facing. I hope that sense can prevail.”
“Academics need to be able to conduct field research and that will sometimes involve being out of the country. This is particularly the case with the type of work that Dr Schwartz-Marín is involved in.”
In 2013, Dr. Schwartz-Marín's work brought Durham over £50,000 worth of research funding for Transformative Research, with a further £198,000 in 2014 for towards Schwartz's work on Citizen Led Forensics in Mexico, being celebrated by the University at the time.
Speaking to The Tab, Dr. Schwartz-Marín said: "Currently in Mexico there are 160 people who have been killed and 32,000 who have disappeared in the recent years.
"We thought this would be counted as an exception by the home office, who say if you doing humanitarian work, this wouldn’t count (towards the visa requirements)."
“I actually think that the whole system is fundamentally unfair for academics because that’s what we do – we spend our time outside the UK to do cutting edge research. Without that we wouldn’t be able to do what we are paid to do.”
Dr Schwartz-Marín's world-renowned work focuses on the "relations and dynamics between truth making, genetic science and notions of nation, ethnicity and race", with specific interest in the use of DNA and data-banking technologies in citizen led forensics of Latin America. It has been featured in over 123 news publications and documentaries, including that of the BBC and Al Jazeera.