Eric Zhi Ying Xue wins support of minister Simon Harris in deportation case
A SCHOOLBOY born and raised in the Republic, but who is facing deportation to China, has won the support of an Irish government minister.
Health minister Simon Harris said he hopes "common sense can prevail" in the case of nine-year-old Eric Zhi Ying Xue.
The young boy was born in Dublin, but is not entitled to Irish citizenship due to a 2004 law change.
His school, St Cronan's School in Bray, believe he is facing "imminent" deportation to China, along with his mother who came to Ireland illegally 12 years ago.
She has fought a long battle to secure residency in Ireland, but was recently told she will be deported along with her Irish-born son.
The school has launched a campaign to try to prevent the deportation, with an online petition already signed by more than 30,000 people.
The school said they have "overwhelmed" by public support and have pleaded with the authorities to revoke the deportation order on "humanitarian" grounds.
They have raised concerns that the young boy would have "no access to China's health or education systems because he is not a Chinese citizen".
School principal, Maeve Tierney, has told RTÉ "as far as I'm concerned, is as Irish as every other boy in this school".
"He is completely and absolutely assimilated into our society, into our school, into our whole community," she said.
The campaign received a boost last night with Mr Harris, who represents Wicklow in the Dáil, intervening on "humanitarian grounds".
"Quite frankly, Eric is Irish. He was born here, goes to school here and has never lived anywhere else," Mr Harris told the BBC.
"This is his home. This is his country.
"I really hope common sense can prevail."
Mr Harris also said he had "made representations" to his government colleagues in the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to Eric's deportation.
"I have appealed for Eric to remain in Ireland on humanitarian grounds," he said.