Israel's immigation authorities must hold hearings for foreign workers’ children who are 12 and older and are due to be deported, a Tel Aviv court ruled Tuesday, possibly reversing some deportation orders against Israeli-born children and their migrant parents.
The Tel Aviv District Court ruling applies not only to future cases but also to children in Israel who are already subject to deportation orders.
Judge Rachel Lavi-Barkai ruled that the “clock must be turned back” in the case of 12-year-old twins whose deportation order had been issued without a hearing, in violation of Justice Ministry guidelines. The judge rescinded the deportation order against them and their family, but did not exclude the possibility that the order could be reissued after the children are afforded a hearing.
The ruling was on the appeal of a deportation order against Maria Louisa Bayag, a foreign worker from the Philippines; her partner, Supan Raksakhan, a foreign worker from Thailand; and their four children, including the twins.
Last October, the Justice Ministry issued a regulation requiring the Population Authority to conduct hearings for migrant workers’ children age 12 and over who are facing deportation, to allow their views to be heard. The rule requires that the authorities make the “desire and well-being of the children” primary considerations in deciding whether to deport them.
The Justice Ministry did not make it clear when the rule was to go into effect, on the understanding that the Population and Immigration Authority would need time to train staff to conduct the hearings. The district court ruling now requires the Population Authority to implement the ministry’s decision immediately, even retroactively.
There are thought to be several dozen children 12 and older who have been issued deportation orders and were never granted a hearing. Some of the orders were issued before the ministry’s rule was issued, but others were issued since then. The district court ruling could provide the lawyers for these children with grounds to appeal the decision to deport them.
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Generally the children subject to the deportation orders were born in Israel to mothers who came to the country on work visas that required that they leave the country if they became pregnant and had children in the country. If they remained, neither the women nor the children had legal resident status in Israel.
In issuing her order, Judge Lavi-Barkai wrote that in light of the fact that the state has recognized the need to grant children who are at least 12 a hearing, it should apply to all of them, “including those against whom deportation orders were issued before the new procedure was implemented,” “Any other decision would involve inconceivable injustice.”
Bayag, Raksakhan and their children live in Dishon, on the Lebanese border. The family was detained for two weeks in September, until they were released on 15,000 shekels ($4,329) bond, which was raised by friends and social activists. The Population and Immigration Authority opposed holding a new hearing in the family’s case, on the argument that the expulsion order had been issued before the new Justice Ministry policy was issued.
In rejecting that argument, Lavi-Barkai stated: “We are dealing with life-and-death matters, and since the new order relates to a basic right in administrative law, and particularly since it deals with minors, there is an obligation to apply the rule to anyone facing deportation, even if a decision to deport was issued under the previous regulations.”
The Population and Immigration Authority refused to comment.