Despite the fact that the child, born to migrant workers in Israel, has lived her whole life here and is integrated into the public school system, the Interior Ministry applied its rigid deportation criteria for the first time since the postponement period on deportations ended – and without even providing the father with the chance to properly depart from his child
In my current capacity as foreign media coordinator for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), I worked on a story yesterday that seems more like a movie than real life. Tuesday night, a Filipina woman who has been living in Israel for 9 years and her 4-year old daughter, born and raised here in Israel, were arrested by a special police unit that is part of the immigration authorities, called “Oz” and taken from their home and transferred immediately to a “holding cell for infiltrators” at Ben-Gurion Airport, where the Interior Ministry had already booked a flight out for them.
The reason ACRI became involved is because the father – a migrant worker also from the Philippines and working as a caregiver in Israel for the last decade legally with a permit – had no idea all this was going on. Essentially it was as if his family had been kidnapped. It was only because a neighbor made a phone call to Israeli Children – an organization that assists children of migrant workers to naturalize in Israel – that the father was made aware his partner and daughter were on the verge of being flown off on the next plane out of here.
To watch video of the event, click here.
ACRI Attorney Oded Feller represented the father in an emergency appeal to a district court in Petah Tikva requesting a temporary injunction to delay the deportation, on the grounds that A) as a legal resident, his child also has legal status and should be able to remain in the country, B) that even if the mother waived the right, he still has the right to appeal the decision within 72 hours, and C) that even if the deportation order goes through, he has the right to be notified and have a proper goodbye from his daughter.
The moment the appeal was accepted late Tuesday night, Israeli Children representatives scrambled to Ben-Gurion airport and literally stopped the plane from taking off, and managed to get the mother and daughter off. The mother is now in custody and the daughter is with her father, who was due in court today for the hearing on her status.
The Interior Ministry claims that despite the father’s legal status in Israel, the daughter does not fulfill the criteria set last year and which have taken effect since March. Such criteria include being born in the country, speaking Hebrew, having studied the year prior in Israel and being enrolled in the Israeli education system for next year. According to the ACRI press release that went out it is the first time in Israel’s history that the Interior Ministry has attempted to deport a child, born and raised in Israel, enrolled in kindergarten in Tel Aviv and integrated into Israel’s public education system.
Indeed, Interior Minister Eli Yishai postponed the application of deportations on children enrolled in the school system in March, and this is the first time he has attempted a deportation since this postponement period ended last month.