Hundreds of Israelis Rally at Anti-deportation Event for Filipino Workers

'Our children were born and grew up in Israel,' migrant workers from the Philippines who organized Shabbat get together say

The "Filipino Shabbat" event at Tel Aviv's Abraham Hostel, February 23, 2019.
Ofer Vaknin

Hundreds turned out at a packed Tel Aviv event on Saturday to show solidarity with the Filipino community in Israel, whose members face the imminent threat of deportation. Israelis, Filipinos and foreign workers from Latin American countries – who may also face a similar risk – along with guest artists and politicians, including Meretz Knesset members and Tel Aviv city councillors, showed up at the “Filipino Shabbat” held at the Abraham Hostel.

The Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority says it has not changed its policy toward Filipino workers in Israel, but last week Haaretz reported that over the past five months at least 18 mothers and two fathers from the Philippines were facing deportation – along with their children – this summer, after a long period without any deportations.

“We came to Israel legally many years ago and since then we have worked taking care of the elderly and those with special needs, with great devotion,” wrote the organizers of the event. “Our children were born and grew up in Israel, they studied in the Israeli educational system alongside Israeli children and like their friends they play, sing and dream in Hebrew. Now our children face the danger of deportation to a country they don’t know and whose language they don’t speak.”

One of the organizers, Margaret, told Haaretz: “I hope we receive the opportunity to remain here, not for us, the parents, but for the sake of our children.”

Margaret, who arrived in Israel in 2006, has two children, aged 9 and 4. Ben, the younger boy, held onto her leg, and didn’t understand what the tumult was about. But the older boy understood the meaning of deportation.

“I told him we had to return to the Philippines. He has never been to the Philippines, and he says he wants to stay in Israel. Lately I can’t sleep out of fear. We may have until July, but it is impossible to know what will happen tomorrow,” said Margaret.