Israeli deportation of Filipino migrant worker, Israeli-born son delayed after plane protest

Israeli deportation of Filipino migrant worker, Israeli-born son delayed after plane protest
3 min read
12 August, 2019
Around 600 Filipino families could be at risk of deportation as Israel continues a crackdown on migrant workers and their Israeli-born children in recent weeks.
Hundreds protested against the deportations last week [AFP]
The deportation of a Filipino migrant worker and her Israeli-born son from Israel was stalled on Sunday night after the woman protested their forced removal while on board the plane, local media reported.

An Israeli court had earlier that day rejected an appeal by Rosemarie Perez and her 13-year-old son Rohan to stay in Israel, an NGO campaigning for the children of migrants said.

The case is a landmark one for some 100 foreign workers, mostly from the Philippines, arrested in recent weeks. If successfully deported, Perez and her son would be the first of the families with school-aged children to be expelled from Israel.

Migrants, their children, and Israeli citizens earlier this month 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.

Perez was arrested last week by immigration officials along with her son for overstaying her work visa.

An immigration authority spokeswoman told AFP that the Filipino migrant worker had been in Israel illegally for 10 years.

Perez came to Israel in 2000 to work as a caregiver, but when her employer died, she remained in the country illegally, most recently working as a cleaner. 

But 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.

Born in Israel to Perez and a Turkish father, Rohan has "never been to the Philippines, he doesn't speak the language, Hebrew is his first tongue", Beth Franco of UCI said.

"He sees this country as his own," she said, adding that it had been his dream to serve in the Israeli armed forces.

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

According to UCI, around 600 Filipino families could be at risk of deportation after losing their residency status.

Following a series of failed legal moves, Perez and her son were on Sunday evening under escort in Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport, set to be put on board a flight to Hong Kong from where they would fly to the Filipino capital Manila, according to Franco.

But the deportation has for now been stalled as Perez "vocally protested" their deportation while on board the El Al flight, prompting their removal from the plane, The Times of Israel reported.

The two are now in Israeli custody with their case in limbo. Two lawyers have filed an injunction on their behalf.

The appeal, filed by attorneys Carmel and Boaz Ben Tzur, protests Rohan Perez's removal based on "social and psychological difficulties" for which he has received counselling in Tel Aviv.

"In his childhood years he learned in a special education program, and last year he was provided psychological treatment from a mental health center on behalf of the Health Ministry. In the opinion of the center's caregivers - authorities recognized by the State of Israel - his removal will cause him irreparable harm," the appeal said.

"The removal of a 13-year-old boy who was born in Israel and lived his whole life here is unacceptable."

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