A PRIMARY SCHOOL in Bray, Co. Wicklow are appealing for the public to sign its petition aimed at preventing the deportation of one of its pupils.
Eric Zhi Ying Xue, a 4th class pupil at St. Cronan's Boys' National School in Bray, is facing deportation to China despite being born in Ireland and never having lived anywhere else.
The nine-year-old's mother Leena Mei Mei Xue is a Chinese citizen, but Eric is not - meaning he will not enjoy the rights of a Chinese citizen if deported there.
The school believes he is facing "imminent" deportation, along with his mother, and are pleading with the Department of Justice to allow him to remain in his home country.
Eric's mother Leena arrived in Ireland 12 years, but a deportation order was served against her in 2015 after her attempts to be granted leave to remain in the country failed.
A final appeal by Ms Xue was rejected in June.
St. Cronan's petition has quickly gathered steam, amassing over 20,000 signatures since it was set up yesterday afternoon.
The school explained their stance on the Change.org page, writing: "We in St. Cronan's School appeal to the Minister for Justice, Mr. Charlie Flanagan, to revoke the deportation order made in respect of Eric Zhi Ying Xue.
"Eric is a 9-year-old boy in 4th Class in St. Cronan's BNS Bray, who was born in Ireland but is not an Irish citizen and has never been out of the country.
"If he is forced to go to China, where his mother was born, he will have no access to China’s health or education systems because he is not a Chinese citizen".
The school added: "This is a humanitarian issue - Eric urgently needs your support."
The petition comes a week after 14-year-old Tullamore schoolboy Nonso Muojeke, who has lived in Ireland since he was aged 2, was given leave to remain in Ireland.
The decision to revoke Muojeke's deportation order followed a hard-fought campaign by staff and students at Tullamore Collage in Co. Offaly, with support from the wider public.
If you would like to sign the Help Eric petition, click here.