Israel Detains Nepalese Woman and Her Two Israeli-born Children in Deportation Drive

Immigration inspectors broke into Ishora Uprita's home early Thursday as part of the ongoing campaign to deport foreign workers with children

Children and parents protest the scheduled deportation of an Israeli-born classmate in Ramat Gan, August 21, 2019.
Moti Milrod

A migrant worker from Nepal and her two Israeli-born children were arrested on Thursday morning after immigration inspectors broke into their home in Herzliya as part of Israel's recent deportation drive. The family has been held in detention since.

Ishora Uprita, came to Israel to work in geriatric care. With the birth of her son, about nine years ago, Israel did not renew her work visa.

Uprita, her 9-year-old son Michael and 5-year-old daughter Shira are being held in Givon Prison. The custodianship court that heard their case on Monday decided that the three will remain in detention until the end of the proceedings and that Michael would not begin the school year with his classmates.

Friends of the family told Haaretz that Michael has been crying often and does not understand why he can't be with his friends.

Ortal Shamsi, who is representing the family, said she would appeal immediately, and petition an inter-ministerial committee to consider granting them residency status in Israel on humanitarian grounds.

The students and parents at Weizmann School in Herzliya, where Michael was supposed to begin fourth grade on Sunday, are calling for the family's release.

In a policy reversal, the Interior Ministry said Sunday that it will now deport foreign workers with school-aged children even during the school year.

Last year, the ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority decided that families with children enrolled in school would be deported only during summer vacation. The new policy is a reversion to that of previous years, when families with children were deported year-round.

Nevertheless, the authority has promised that it will not arrest children slated for deportation while they are at school or on their way to and from school, according to a letter disseminated to Tel Aviv principals by the head of the city’s education department. The letter said that Mayor Ron Huldai had negotiated the policy of keeping schools off-limits with the director of the Immigration Authority, Shlomo Mor-Yosef, to allow children to attend classes and return home without fear of arrest.

Last week, a petition challenging the deportations was filed in the High Court of Justice on behalf of the children of foreign caregivers, their Israeli classmates and their mothers. The petition argued that the Immigration Authority had no right to change its policy with a transitional government that does not have the public's trust and has no oversight from the Knesset, which has blocked similar deportations in the past. The state was expected to respond on Thursday, but has not yet done so.

Attorney David Tadmor, who filed the petition, amended it on Sunday to add a new argument – that deporting children during the school year will deprive them of their right to education under the Compulsory Education Law.