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deportation order Family of five in direct provision for six years left out of right-to-stay scheme

Mehwish (29) and Muhammad Saqib (34) and their three children have lived in direct provision centres in Mayo and Mosney for the past six-and-a-half years

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Mehwish and Muhammad Saqib and their three children, aged 10, eight and five, have lived in direct provision centres in Mayo and Mosney for the past six-and-a-half years. Photo: Mosney direct provision centre in Co Meath. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

Mehwish and Muhammad Saqib and their three children, aged 10, eight and five, have lived in direct provision centres in Mayo and Mosney for the past six-and-a-half years. Photo: Mosney direct provision centre in Co Meath. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

Mehwish and Muhammad Saqib and their three children, aged 10, eight and five, have lived in direct provision centres in Mayo and Mosney for the past six-and-a-half years. Photo: Mosney direct provision centre in Co Meath. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

A scheme to grant the right to remain in the State for undocumented people leaves out a young family-of-five who have lived in direct provision for over six years.

Mehwish (29) and Muhammad Saqib (34) and their three children, aged 10, eight and five, have lived in direct provision centres in Mayo and Mosney, Co Meath for the past six-and-a-half years.

Mrs Saqib studied early-years education at DCU after being granted a scholarship under the University of Sanctuary programme, which allows refugees and asylum seekers to complete third-level education courses.

However, a deportation order was issued for the family in 2019 and Mrs Saqib was at the heart of a high-profile campaign by the university to stop her and her family being deported.

Due to the deportation order, which is being appealed in the High Court, the family are no longer recognised as asylum seekers.

They are also not eligible to be included under Justice Minister Helen McEntee’s new scheme to regularise the undocumented, which gives them the chance to remain legally in the State.

This is due to a technical issue whereby more than three years must pass since the deportation order, which is about a year away.

As the scheme is only open for six months, Ms Saqib and her family have found themselves in limbo.

“For more than a year-and-a-half, we were really looking forward to the scheme and we were hoping – having spent six years in the system, that we would be able to get out,” she told the Sunday World.

She said the news that they would not be eligible for the scheme was “very depressing”.

“I made a mistake because I told [my children] that soon, we will get our papers and we will move out. And every day, they ask the same question – ‘When will we get our papers?’

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“My eight-year-old asked me about the scheme and if we were included on the day it was announced. I always gave them hope.”

“But my husband and I decided to not discuss the scheme with them anymore because they will lose their hope as well,” Ms Saqib added.

She also said that they were still waiting to hear news on the status of their appeal of the deportation order.

As they are not recognised as asylum seekers, Mrs and Mr Saqib do not have the right to work, despite Mrs Saqib’s university qualifications.

“We are just sitting at home and doing nothing, when we are well capable of providing for our children, to provide them with their best life. But because our hands were tied with these barriers, we can’t do anything,” she said.

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland (MASI) group has said that it has received many queries from people who are left out of both schemes despite having spent years in direct provision.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice declined to comment on individual cases but said that to ensure the application process for the regularisation scheme is “fair and effective as possible” that all applications “must be submitted within the allocated time period and all applicants are required to meet criteria related to residency requirements”.

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