August 14, 2019
JERUSALEM: Israel had started expelling overstaying Filipino workers, a children’s rights group and authorities said on Tuesday, hours Rosemarie Perez and her Israeli-born teenaged son were deported when 11th hour legal appeals failed.
Some 600 workers from the Philippines face deportation over a loss of residency status, activists say.
They include those who breached the conditions of their residency by starting families in the country.
Perez was arrested by immigration officials along with her 13-year-old son Rohan last week for remaining in the country illegally.
They were taken to Ben-Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on Sunday night after an appeals court upheld their deportation, Beth Franco of the United Children of Israel (UCI) association said.
But they were taken off the plane after their lawyer requested an urgent hearing on their status in a bid to have them remain in Israel.
On Monday evening, they were again escorted to Ben-Gurion airport where they were put on a flight to Bangkok for onward connection to Manila, Franco said.
Israel’s immigration authority confirmed in a statement that they had been deported, adding that Perez had been in the country illegally for 12 years and that all court appeals had been exhausted.
The families and supporters say deporting the children to a country, which they have never seen and whose languages they do not speak is a cruel policy.
The embassy of Israel in Manila said a foreign worker was allowed to live and work in Israel up to five years.
“The government of Israel greatly appreciates the contribution of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who have been staying and living in Israel for so many years,” the embassy said in a statement. It added that to show its concern to the working conditions of Filipinos, Israel signed a “historical” bilateral labor agreement with the Philippines “to improve the rights of OFWs and dramatically reduce the placement fees.”
The embassy said Israel’s Supreme Court “scrutinized” the case of Perez, who was found to have been illegally staying in the country for 12 years.
Last week, migrants, their children and Israeli supporters held a protest in Tel Aviv against the policy of deporting Israeli-born children of migrants.
Many of the 28,000 — largely Christian — Filipinos in Israel arrived to work as caregivers and home help, but according to UCI, some 600 families could now face expulsion.
Their visas were conditioned on the requirement that they do not start a family in the country apart from certain exceptions, the association says.
The issue has particular resonance in Israel, where there are long-term fears about maintaining a Jewish majority in the country, which was founded as a national homeland for Jews.
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