Israel Arrests Nigerian Woman, Israeli-born Son Ahead of Deportation

Christina Blessing applied for asylum in 2008 but was rejected. In 2015, her request to receive residency on humanitarian medical grounds was also denied

Population and Immigration Authority facility in central Israel, 2018.
Moti Milrod

The Population and Immigration Authority arrested on Thursday an Israeli-born 8-year-old boy and his mother, a Nigerian national, ahead of their deportation.

Christina Blessing and her son Favour were arrested at the authority offices in Beit Dagan, where they arrived to hear the decision on their case. Their attorney, Tal Sahar, said the authority had told Blessing to bring her son without explaining why.

Blessing and her son, who live in Tel Aviv, were first arrested three weeks ago and held in detention for six days, after which they were released on a 30,000 shekel ($8,600) bail.

Blessing entered Israel in 2008 on a tourist visa and then applied for asylum, but her application was rejected in 2010. In January 2015 her request to receive residency on humanitarian medical grounds was also rejected.

A post protesting the arrest of Israeli-born Favour BlessingUCI United Children of Israel / Facebook

Favour's father, also a Nigerian national, currently lives in Dubai.

The Blessings were arrested because Christina refused to promise she would leave Israel within 21 days, as the authority had demanded. But her attorney Sahar told the head of the authority’s Beit Dagan office, Galit Ben Shmuel, that Christina hadn’t actually refused, but merely didn’t want to sign anything without consulting her lawyer. Sahar added that her client would fight the deportation order only through legal means.

Three Kahol Lavan Knesset members – Miki Haimovich, Yael German and Asaf Zamir – demanded that the Blessings be released. “Arresting a child for no fault of his own is cruel, disproportionate and inappropriate,” German said, adding that since the Knesset isn’t in session, it had no opportunity to discuss the case and perhaps prevent the arrest.

Haimovich tweeted: “It’s inconceivable and intolerable that children are in prison in Israel or living in constant fear of arrest.” Zamir accused the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the Population and Immigration Authority, of exploiting the current political crisis to change its policy toward children born and raised in Israel, adding that this “must stop.”