Israel to deport Filipina woman refusing to reveal her children's whereabouts

Israel to deport Filipina woman refusing to reveal her children's whereabouts
Jodaline Dela Vega was declared a 'childless illegal resident' who can be deported without her children after she refused to reveal the location of her two children.
3 min read
03 September, 2019
Filipina workers take part in a protest against deportation in Tel Aviv [AFP/Getty]

Israel's interior ministry is set to deport a Filipina woman who has refused to divulge the location of her two children in a bid to protect them, Haaretz reported.

After Jodaline Dela Vega refused to inform the ministry about the whereabouts of her two children, the Population and Immigration Authority declared her as a "childless illegal resident" who can be deported without her children.

Dela Vega was arrested last Tuesday in Rishon Letzion, the Israeli newspaper reported. Since her arrest, her two children, aged 10 and 12, have been in hiding.

"I'm in jail, very concerned about my children. I don't want to reveal where they are. Prison is not a place for children," Dela Vega told Haaretz.

"I won't give them to the authority so they can be incarcerated and deported. I've been here for 15 years and have never been arrested, no one ever said anything to me. I don't understand what's happening, why they’re taking them from me. I'm in an impossible situation."

Dela Vega has lived in Israel since 2004 but now lacks the proper documentation to stay.

Israeli authorities have pressured her to share the location of her children so they can be arrested and the family can be deported together. Dela Vega has refused.

"She is defined as childless, since she hasn't proven she's a mother, and she's being treated like an illegal resident without children," the Immigration Authority said.

Dela Vega's lawyer, Yishai Sarid, shared the children's birth certificates and school papers with the authorities but to no avail.

"If you prove that she has children, we'll help her to leave the country with them," the Immigration Authority responded.

An appeal has been scheduled for Wednesday, up to which point Dela Vega's deportation has been postponed.

According to Sarid, Dela Vega hopes to obtain legal status in Israel for her and her family on humanitarian grounds. Her children were born in Israel and speak only Hebrew.

He described in his appeal that the children "will be motherless, without her care and supervision, with the family destroyed", if Dela Vega is deported.

The Population and Immigration Authority accused Dela Vega of "cynically using her children as a shield against deportation from Israel" in its reponse to the appeal.

Last month, migrants, their children, and Israeli citizens staged a protest in Tel Aviv against the country's policy of deporting the Israeli-born children of foreign workers.

The policy is connected to Israel's long-running preoccupation with maintaining a Jewish-majority population in the country.

Israel deported a Filipina migrant worker, Rosemarie Perez, and her Israeli-born teenage son with special needs in August after legal appeals failed.

Perez is among some 600 workers from the Philippines who activists say could face deportation over a loss of residency status.

Read also: Israeli plan to 'facilitate Palestinian emigration' is even more insidious than you thought

They include those who breached the conditions of their residency by starting families in the country.

NGO United Children of Israel (UCI) argues that it is cruel to send Rohan and other children of migrants to a country they have never seen and where they do not speak the language.

Many of the around 28,000 Filipinos in Israel arrived in the country to work as caregivers and domestic workers.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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