Israel Arrests Filipino Couple, Two Israeli-born Daughters in Deportation Crackdown

Immigration authorities raided the Tel Aviv home of Sheila and Randy Lasko, who have been living in Israel for 20 years, and detained them ahead of deportation

Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron
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The Velasco family's arrest, August 18, 2019.
The Velasco family's arrest, August 18, 2019.Credit: UCI United Children of Israel
Lee Yaron
Lee Yaron

The Population and Immigration Authority arrested a Filipino couple and their two Israeli-born daughters at the family’s home on Sunday morning.

The arrest is part of an operation to deport Filipina caregivers who have overstayed their visas.

Sheila and Randy Velasko, who have been living in Israel for 20 years, were arrested along with their daughters Kim, 13, and Maureen, 10. The two girls, who were born in Israel, are students at the Balfour school in Tel Aviv.

A video filmed at the scene shows the family leaving their home with packed suitcases and saying goodbye to their neighbors.

>> Read more: Israel may have the world's highest rate of foreign health aides - and it's a luxury, not a needThe Israeli interior minister's deportation campaign | Editorial

The Interior Ministry had planned to deport about 100 Filipina workers and their Israeli-born children this summer. The women had originally come to Israel legally to work, but their visas were not renewed after they gave birth to children in Israel. Many of the children of these Filipina mothers have grown up in Israel and speak only Hebrew.

The Velasco family as they get arrested by Israeli authorities on August 18, 2019.Credit: UCI United Children of Israel

Last week, Rosemarie Peres and her 13-year-old, Israeli-born son Rohan were deported. Before them, two more workers and their children were arrested and the resolution of their case is still pending.

The Peres's deportation took place despite a still-pending appeal against the move. They appealed to delay the deportation until all procedures to cancel it were exhausted, but the appeals tribunal had approved immediate deportation and the ruling was not overturned by the District Court and the Supreme Court. After Peres and her son left the country, the District Court heard their appeal in their absence, and as not yet rendered its decision.

Peres and her son are suing the Population and Immigration Authority for half a million shekels ($140,995) because they were made to leave the country without collecting their clothing and money from their home.

According to the population authority, dozens of people are to be deported as part of the operation, but sources in the Filipino community say that the final number will be much larger. The women have been served with papers stating that they would be deported in July or August.

In 2006 and 2010, the government made two decisions granting legal status to the children of foreign workers. Now, children who did not get legal status at that time due to their age, but were not deported then and have since gone to school here, are asking the government to recognize them and not deport them to their parents’ country of origin, where they have never lived.

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