Deportation of Filipina Worker and Israeli-born Children Suspended Until Sunday

Geraldine Esta and her children, who were born in Israel, were arrested two days ago amid an Israeli deportation crackdown

Classmates protest Kiyan's deportation outside the Ben Gurion detention center, July 25, 2019.
Meged Gozani

The deportation of Geraldine Esta, a migrant worker from the Philippines, and her two children was delayed Thursday by a Tel Aviv court until Sunday, when a hearing on their appeal will be held.

At the close of the hearing on the request to release the three from custody, the court determined that they will remain at the Givon detention facility until the hearing on the appeal. Friends of Esta’s 10-year-old son Kiyan protested outside the hearing.

On Tuesday morning, Population and Immigration Authority agents arrested Esta and her children at their home in Ramat Gan. Another Filipina foreign worker and her baby son who were in the home at the time were also arrested.

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The agents first tried to break a window in the apartment and ultimately broke down the door to enter. They instructed the people in the home to quickly pack some belongings and then took the two women and three children to the detention facility at Ben-Gurion International Airport.

In the appeal filed on Esta’s behalf by attorney Haya Mena, Esta argued that there was no prior warning before the agents broke into her home, and that a hearing on her case was held on the day of her arrest, without giving her an opportunity to consult with a lawyer. At the hearing she was told that she and her children were going to be deported from Israel to the Philippines.

Esta entered Israel legally in 2004 to work as a caregiver. In 2009, when she became pregnant, she had to leave her job because it required actions such as lifting heavy objects that could have harmed the baby. “The appellant did not seek to be in Israel illegally,” her attorney wrote in the appeal. “These were the circumstances that were forced upon her.”

After she gave birth to Kiyan, Esta’s work visa was not renewed. A migrant worker who becomes pregnant is not be able to renew her visa, and if she does not leave Israel of her own accord, she can be arrested and deported.

Kiyan is a fifth-grader at the Hallel School in Ramat Gan, and his five-year-old sister Katherine attends a local kindergarten. Hebrew is the children’s mother tongue.

“Kiyan and his sister have been in emotional turmoil since the brutal raid of their home and have not stopped crying,” the appeal says. “Although he is a social and well-liked boy, Kiyan has serious difficulties with language and memorization and in acquiring reading and writing skills, and suffers from emotional problems.” Given all of this, the appeal says, deporting him from Israel would be “a decree he will be unable to cope with emotionally and academically.”