Israel to Grant Residency to 221 Children of Migrant Workers

Interior Minister ends three-year wait for Israeli-educated offspring of foreigners.

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Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced Tuesday that he had decided to grant residency permits to 221 children of foreigners, age 8–23. Most of the children were born in Israel and they all study or studied in the Israeli educational system. The children have been waiting for resolution of their cases for three and a half years.

Sa’ar based his move on the cabinet’s 2010 decision to grant residency permits to children of migrant workers. Among the conditions set for the permit is that the children in question had been educated in the Israeli school system, spoke Hebrew, had ties to Israel and have been in the country for at least five consecutive years and that their parents had to have entered the country with a legal visa.

After the cabinet decision the Interior Ministry received some 700 applications for residency permits for the children of foreigners. The ministry approved some 350 requests and turned down about 100.

The Association of Civil Rights in Israel and the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants appealed the rejected requests. Most of the children did not receive a response until now.

“In my decision I took into account the major delay in dealing with the applications of the children who have grown up here and are in fact Israeli,” said Sa’ar, adding that the decision was a necessary one dictated by humanitarian concerns and the “core values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Galit Torpor, 20, who was born in Israel and whose parents came to Israel from Ghana, is due to receive residency as a result of the decision. “I’m really glad that this struggle is over. I go around smiling!” she told Haaretz. “For children like me, age 16 and above, this can be really significant. We need an identity card to do many things in our lives and when we don’t have it, it’s very frustrating.”

Rotem Ilan, who led the struggle, said: “The interior minister made the just and humane decision and implemented the cabinet decision.” A clear policy regarding the rights of labor migrants must now be formulated, she added.

MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) chairwoman of the Knesset Foreign Workers Committee welcomed the decision, which she said “put an end to ongoing injustice to these children.” However, she also criticized the time it took to put the cabinet decision into effect.

Migrant children eating in Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

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