Court Affirms Deportation Order of Filipina Migrant Worker, Two Israeli-born Children

The mother, who had lost her legal status when she had her first child, and her children ordered to leave within 45 days

Geraldine Esta and her children in court, July 30, 2019.
Moti Milrod

An administrative appeals judge on Tuesday affirmed the deportation order issued against a Filipino woman, Geraldine Esta, and her two children, Kiyan, 10, and Katherine, 5, but ordered them released from custody in the interim in exchange for a 15,000 shekel ($4,200) bond. The sum has not yet been obtained.

The three were arrested last week at their Ramat Gan home in advance of their deportation. Esta's lawyer, Haya Mena, said she would appeal Tuesday's decision and seek to obtain resident status for her clients on humanitarian grounds.

Esta came to Israel in 2004 as a custodial nursing care provider, but lost her work visa after becoming pregnant and having a child in Israel. Kiyan has just finished 5th grade at the Hallel school in Ramat Gan. His sister had been attending a kindergarten in the Tel Aviv suburb. Last week, Kiyan's classmates and the classmates' parents demonstrated in front the detention facility at Ben-Gurion International Airport where the family was being held.

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At a hearing in the case on Sunday, Halabga said "regular human beings and juveniles do not belong in a detention facility” and asked how the government’s decision to detain the children squared with the children’s well-being. In response, Shiran Turgeman, who represented the government, said humanitarian concerns do not provide a basis for delaying the deportation, but added that the case could still be evaluated after the family leaves the country.

This summer, the Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority is planning to deport dozens of Filipina workers whose visas have lapsed after they had children in Israel, although the Filipino community in Israel fears the actual number will be larger. Despite being born in Israel, the children do not have legal status in the country.

In 2006 and 2010, the government made two decisions granting legal status to the children of foreign workers. Now, children who did not get legal status at that time due to their age, but were not deported and have gone to school in Israel, are seeking to avoid deportation to their parents’ country of origin, where they have never lived.