By Tania Chakraborti
Over 100 people gathered in a demonstration against the Home Office’s decision to deport two Durham academics at Durham University’s Science Site this morning.
The demonstration was organised by UCU Durham at 10:30 am this morning.
Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin, his wife Dr Arely Cruz-Santiago and their 11-year-old daughter have been given under 14 days to leave the country.
The Home Office have qualified their deportation on the grounds that fieldwork conducted in Mexico between June 2014 and July 2015 working with victims of gang related violence and building a DNA database to locate the missing did not classify as “attending a humanitarian crisis”.
Speaking to Palatinate regarding the purpose of today’s demonstration, UCU’s Regional Support Officer for the Northern region, Jon Bryan, said: “UCU are supporting the campaign to keep Ernesto and Arely in this country.
“The reason Ernesto has been out of the country for more days than allowed is because of the field research that he is involved in. In short, he is being told to leave the country for doing his job. That cannot be right.”
“Staff, students and the whole community that make up Durham University, need to get behind this campaign to keep Ernesto and Arely in this country. The freedom to conduct academic research is at stake here, and it has been amazing to see the support in the rain for the family today, and the solidarity and pressure that is building up online.”
“Let’s hope the Home Office have a re-think and see some sense, so the family can remain in this country and Ernesto and Arely can get back to doing their jobs.”
A change.org petition calling for the Home Office to reverse its decision has achieved over 20,800 signatures An ongoing crowdfunding campaign has also gained support, raising £13,900 in aid of the married couple.
Local MP Roberta Blackman-Woods has been contacted by a number of students urging her to take action for the academics. Her caseworker replied to certain students that Ms Blackman-Woods is “very concerned to hear about their situation. She is liaising with the family directly, and has already contacted the Home Office on their behalf.”
A video of Ernesto addressing the demonstration can be found here.
Photograph: Jon Bryan via Durham UCU