Filipina, Israeli-born Son Slated for Deportation Allowed to Remain in the Country During Appeal

Ofresina Koanka came to Israel in 2000 on a work visa, which lapsed when she became pregnant with her son, Michael James, who is now 12 and has special needs

Lee Yaron
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Ofresina Koanka and her son, Michael James, following their release from custody in July.
Ofresina Koanka and her son, Michael James, following their release from custody in July.Credit: Meged Gozani
Lee Yaron

A Filipina woman who came to Israel as a migrant worker and was ordered deported along with her 12-year-old son because her work visa lapsed when she became pregnant with the son will be allowed to remain in Israel while the appeal of ther deportation is pending. A Tel Aviv District Court judge issued an order on Monday staying the deportation of Ofresina Koanka and her son, Michael James, who has special needs.

The two had been arrested prior to their slated deportation in July and spent a week in detention. In late August, an administrative appeals tribunal denied their appeal on humanitarian grounds, a decision that they then appealed to the district court. In his decision Monday, District Court Judge Kobi Vardi issued did not rule on the appeal but said it could not be rejected out of hand, adding that expelling Koanka and her son "could cause harm, particularly to the minor, who is being uprooted from his educational and social surroundings."

Population and Immigration Authority inspectors initially arrested Koanka in March and required her to sign a document consenting to leave the country with her son by July 15, after the 2018-2019 school year. She filed an application for legal status in July and claimed that her son required placement in special education. After the two spent a week in detention, a custody supervision tribunal ordered them released, as long as their location was known to the authorities.

The tribunal also found that their case and their detention had not been properly handled. Michael James' condition had not been sufficiently considered and their arrest was not reasonable or proportionate, the tribunal found. Their appeal was then denied by an administrative tribunal in late August, leading them to file their appeal to Vardi's district court.

In Monday's ruling, Judge Vardi said their deportation before the end of the appeal process was over might inflict harm to Michael James would outweigh the potential harm, if any, caused by their remaining in the country.