Israeli Court Orders Release of Two Detained Israeli-born Filipino Children Facing Deportation

Court expected to rule Sunday whether 13-year-old Gena Antigo and 10-year-old Ralph Harel, who were arrested as they headed out for school, should be deported

Ralph Harel, 10, and and his mother Maureen Mariano and Gena Antigo, 13, with their mothers at an appeals court.
Tomer Appelbaum

An Israeli appeals court ordered on Friday to release on bail two Filipino migrants' children and their mothers who were detained this week ahead of their deportation.

Gena Antigo, 13, and Ralph Harel, 10, were released on a 30,000 shekel ($8,510) bail each. The court is expected to reach a verdict on Sunday whether to accept the appeal filed by attorney David Tadmor not to deport them.

Tadmor, who with his colleagues is representing the petitioners pro bono, thanked the court for its decision and expressed hope that the children wouldn't be deported.

Antigo, an Israel-born Philippines national, is a seventh-grader who attends the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium School in Tel Aviv. She was arrested with her mother who has been living in Israel since 2004 without a permit. 

Population and Immigration Authority inspectors detained Gena on Wednesday on her way to school in advance of her deportation to the Philippines. Gena, who was taken to Givon Prison where she is currently incarcerated with her mother, did not receive a hearing before her detention – in violation of Justice Ministry directives.

Two days earlier Harel, an Israel-born fifth-Grader, was arrested with his mother Maureen Mariano, a Philippines national residing in Tel Aviv, as he was getting ready to go to his school.  

On Thursday, some 1,000 students, teachers and parents demonstrated outside of Givon Prison against the detention Antigo and Harel.

Demonstrators held signs reading: "We won't let them deport Gena," "They're children just like us" and "No evil in our schools."

As the new school year began, the director general of the Population and Immigration Authority, Shlomo Mor Yosef, promised that children of migrants would not be stopped during the school day, on their way to school or on their way home. The Authority said the arrests do not violate this promise, as it does not apply to the timeframe prior to leaving for school.