Filipina Worker and 13-year-old Israeli-born Son Arrested in Deportation Drive

An advocacy group formed by Filipina mothers says arrest was made to deter mothers and their children from attending a Tuesday night protest against deportations

Rosemarie and Rohan Perez

Immigration Authority inspectors arrested a Filipina worker and her 13-year-old son on Tuesday morning in preparation to deport them. The boy was born in Israel.

Rosemarie and Rohan Perez were arrested in a raid on their Tel Aviv home and were taken to the Immigration Authority detention center near the Beit Dagan junction, east of Tel Aviv.

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Friends of Rosemarie said that she had been working in the country for over 20 years. The United Children of Israel non-profit, which was established by Filipino mothers, stated that they believe the arrest was intended to deter mothers and children from attending a demonstration scheduled for Tuesday evening against deportations at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art plaza. 

Hundreds attended the demonstration, calling for the release of all detained foreign workers and their children and for Israel to put an immediate stop to the deportations. About two dozen counter-protesters yelled at the demonstrators to “Go home.” Some clashed with police.

10-year-old Khean Esta, who was detained along with his mother and sister earlier this month, told the crowd: “We haven’t done anything bad. They put us in prison, we were there for about a week and it wasn’t nice.”

“For a week, no one was arrested and we feel that maybe they are arresting people before the demonstration to intimidate us and cause us to cancel it,” an earlier statement by the United Children of Israel said.

“We are afraid, but they will not make us stop the protest," the statement continued. "We are fighting to prevent the deportation because we believe with all our hearts that they are Israeli children and cannot be deported from their homes. We are doing our best to guarantee the welfare of our children every day."

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, the children do not have legal status in the country. Mothers have been sent documents saying that they will be deported in July and August.

In July, the Interior Ministry requested to implement the first deportation order given to a mother and her Israeli-born child. Immigration authorities arrested Ofresina Koanka and 12-year-old Michael James, who were slated for deportation. They were released a week later on the orders of an Israeli custody tribunal judge, and a hearing regarding their deportation is expected to be held this week.

Two days after their release, immigration authorities arrested Geraldine Esta and her two Israeli-born daughters, Khean, 10, and Kathryn, 5. An administrative appeals judge affirmed the deportation order, but released them from custody on bond. They have 45 days to leave the country, a timespan that allows them to put their affairs in order as well as to put in a request to obtain resident status.

Together with Esta and her two daughters, another mother and her 11-month-old baby were arrested, who were living in Esta's home. According to the Immigration Authority, the mother arrived in Israel in 2006 with a work permit for a finite time span. The Immigration Authority notes that with her arrest, she expressed that she wants to leave Israel, and she returned to the Philippines with her young son last week.