Hundreds Join Tel Aviv Protest Against Child Deportations

Protest organizer: We oppose allowing children below first grade to be deported and oppose the bureaucratic obstacles faced by families sorting out their immigration status.

Hundreds of social activists and labor migrants gathered in Levinsky Park in south Tel Aviv Saturday night to express support for increasing the number of children of unauthorized foreign workers who will be permitted to remain in Israel. The demonstration comes as an interministerial panel prepares to submit its recommendations to the cabinet. The plan calls for permitting children to stay who arrived in Israel before the age of 13, have been in Israel for at least five consecutive years and are enrolled in state primary or secondary schools. The younger siblings of the children meeting these criteria will also be permitted to stay in the country.

Rotem Ilan, founding director of Israeli Children and a key anti-deportation organizer, told Haaretz that the protesters oppose allowing children below the first grade to be deported and oppose the "impossible bureaucratic" obstacles faced by families in sorting out their immigration status.

"They were given 21 days to submit the documents, an impossible period of time for them," she said, "especially when the schools are closed for summer vacation and documents can't be obtained from them. I can guarantee that more than 50 percent of the children who meet the criteria won't be able to meet" [the deadline], Rotem said.

Representatives from numerous human and civil rights and student organizations participated in Saturday night's demonstration.