Deportation of Filipina Migrant, Israeli-born Son Imminent After Top Court Rejects Appeal

Supreme Court refuses to halt deportation of Rosemarie Perez, whose work visa expired when her son was born in the country

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Rosemarie and Rohan Perez in court.
Rosemarie and Rohan Perez at the administrative appeals court, August 11, 2019.Credit: Meged Gozani

A Tel Aviv administrative tribunal ruled on Sunday that a 13-year-old boy and his mother, a Filipina woman who had come to Israel on a work visa and whose son was born in Israel, could be deported to the Philippines. Lawyers for the two, Rosemarie Perez and her son, Rohan, sought to have the deportation ruling stayed by the Supreme Court, but Justice Alex Stein ruled that there was no basis for a stay.

Population and Immigration Authority officials planned to put them on a flight leaving the country at 10:35 P.M. Sunday evening.

The judge, Mart Dorfman, noted that in dismissing the urgent appeal filed by Peres and her son, he was doing so “with complex misgivings.”

The Perez's case is one of several being pursued by immigration authorities in an effort to target Filipina women who came to the country on work visas that expired when they had children born in Israel. Rosemarie and Rohan Perez had no legal status in the country.

Lawyers Carmel and Boaz Ben Zur initially sought a stay on Sunday to the district court, followed by teh request to the Supreme Court, but both courts refused to intervene in the deportation.

Rohan, a student at the Bialik Rogozin school in Tel Aviv, had been due to enter eighth grade. He and his mother were arrested last week.

This summer, the Interior Ministry's Population and Immigration Authority is planning to deport dozens of Filipina workers whose visas were not renewed after they had children in Israel, although the Filipino community in Israel fears the actual number will be larger. Although they were born in Israel and many of them speak only Hebrew, none of the children have legal status in the country.

In their appeal, Carmel and Boaz Ben Zur described Rohan as suffering from "social and psychological difficulties, for which he was getting treatment and counseling." He had been placed as a child in a special education setting "and over the past year he has been getting psychological treatment from the Health Ministry mental health center," the lawyers said. "In the opinion of the treatment professionals in this center – officials of the State of Israel – deporting him  will cause him irreparable damage.”

“Deporting a 13-year-old boy from one day to the next who was born in Israel and lived here all his life is inconceivable, especially after the state hasn't acted for many years," the lawyers asserted.

Immigration inspectors arrested the two last week. Rosemary Perez’s friends said she has been working in Israel for more than 20 years.

MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash-Ta’al), who has expanded access to prisoners as a Knesset member, went to the Yahalom detention facility at Ben-Gurion Airport Sunday night to visit Perez and her son, but the director of the Population Authority, Shlomo Mor Yosef, said he could not be given access to the two.