Here is how support has grown for family of the Durham academic threatened with deportation
A petition to reconsider the decision has had over 12,400 signatures
Days after receiving a letter from the Home Office rejecting their application for indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK, Dr. Ernesto Schwartz-Marín and family are embroiled in a battle to challenge the Home Office's decision.
A crowd-funding campaign set up by barrister Jo Maugham QC through his organisation 'The Good Law Project Ltd.' has so far raised over £10,300 in support of the family's plight.
Money raised will initially be used to "cover the costs of challenging the deportation of Ernesto and his family using leading specialist immigration lawyers", with any extra funds directed towards challenging other similar high profile cases.
A further petition for the Home Office to reconsider their decision has received over 12,400 signatures since it was set up 2 days ago, with supporters challenging what one called "an outrageous and absurd interpretation of the law".
The office of Durham MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has confirmed that after being contacted by many constituents "highlighting their concern and dismay at this decision", she is actively working with Ernesto's family and has been in touch with the Home Office on their behalf "to raise her own concerns".
Durham UCU, who have urged members to write urgently to their local MPs, are encouraging striking lecturers to "bring Mexican flags and placards of support" to the picket lines on the science site tomorrow morning.
Ernesto has this afternoon taken to Twitter to express him and Arely's "deep gratitude" for the support they have received. Speaking to the Tab this week, he expressed his frustration at the "fundamentally unfair" system, especially given the humanitarian work that the couple had been doing. "My job description actually included the fact that I had to leave for one year to do fieldwork."
"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)”.
The crowd-funding page set up by Jo Maugham QC, titled "If you build your life amongst us this is your home too", details the extent of the legal challenge that Dr. Schwartz-Marín and his wife Dr Arely Cruz-Santiago are facing.
He argues that in denying the couple's overseas humanitarian work, the Home Office risks "turning our world class Universities – which should be flag-bearers for a global, outward-facing Britain – into small, inward-looking institutions".
Maugham highlights the absurdity of this, and other, cases where academics and professionals have "culturally enriched our society with their presence, taught our children, paid their taxes but who are now actively threatened with deportation for doing their fieldwork or research abroad".
For many, the struggle extends beyond this case alone. Just this morning Maugham raised yet another example of injustice in UK immigration laws, demonstrating how anyone who can prove they have over £2,000,000 worth of investment funds is welcomed to the UK, whilst leading academics are under threat of detention and removal from the country.
To Schwartz-Marín and family, who have called the UK their home for the past 10 years, the challenge is multilayered: "It isn’t just about work – it’s also about the freedom and capacity to do fieldwork without being punished, and fulfil the job you have been hired to do without being punished."