Migrant Worker, Israeli-born 10-year-old Daughter Detained Ahead of Deportation

Activists say immigration authority flouts directive, takes advantage of lack of oversight created by Israel's political deadlock

Children protest deportation of Israeli-born children of foreign workers outside the Prime Minister's Residence, Jerusalem, June 11, 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

A 10-year-old Israeli-born girl and her mother, a migrant worker from the Philippines, were detained Tuesday in Tel Aviv by immigration officers ahead of deportation.

The mother, Marina, who has worked in Israel as a caretaker, was apprehended in the morning, while her daughter, Eden, a fifth-grade student, was stopped on her way back from school.

In the past year, several children were arrested and held in facilities maintained by the Population and Immigration Authority until their expulsion, drawing criticism from the Filipino community and human rights activists.

The Justice Ministry announced last month that children of migrant workers slated for deportation would only be detained as a last resort. The children may be arrested only “if there is a high probability that other means to assure the family leaves the country would be ineffective,” the ministry wrote.

The directive, issued in early December, came after it resolved that the Population and Immigration Authority must hold hearings for children over 12 years old who are set to be deported. According to the directive, the authorities must consider the “wishes and greater good of the children” when deciding whether to deport them.

United Children of Israel, a community organization of Filipina mothers, protested the arrest, arguing that it was a cynical use of Israel's continued political deadlock.

"It is evident that now, in an election period with only a transitional government and no Knesset oversight, the Population and Immigration Authority is enhancing arrests of migrant workers’ children in order to deport them," a statement released on Tuesday said.

In response, the Immigration and Population Authority denied it violated any regulations, insisting the information reported in the media is “selective and slanderous,” and those behind it “ignore basic things like Israeli law and these mothers’ responsibilities.”