Twenty Knesset members on Monday called on Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to stop the deportation of a Thai national and her seven-year-old Israeli daughter.
"The Interior Ministry's decision is cruel and immoral. We call on the ministry to stop the deportation of Kultida, the mother of Danielle Lev," the Knesset members said.
Kultida Lev, a Thai national, was married to an Israeli man who died while she was in the middle of the naturalization process.
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Spearheaded by Meretz party member Gaby Lasky and signed by an additional 19 Knesset members from both the coalition and opposition, the appeal demands that Shaked stop Kultida's deportation and grant her legal status in Israel.
"The Interior Ministry's decision to deport Kultida presents a seven-year-old girl with an impossible dilemma: to break away from her mother and be left alone in the country, or to leave her homeland, family and friends to a country she does not know or speak the language of."
"In its decision, the Interior Ministry ignores the basic right of every person to a family and the right of Danielle as an Israeli citizen to grow up with her parents," the letter added.
Last week, a family court appointed a trustee for Danielle, enabling her to be represented in legal proceedings on her mother’s case, since the decision will obviously affect her directly.
The Jerusalem District Court – which refused last month to temporarily freeze Lev’s deportation – agreed last week to reconsider that decision, as well as Lev’s appeal of her deportation. Judge Anat Singer wrote that new evidence, including an opinion by a private psychiatrist, provides grounds for rehearing the case. The rehearing will take place early next month.
Danielle's father, Shmulik Lev, met Kultida, a pharmacist, during a trip to Thailand. They got married in 2013 and lived in Tel Aviv, and Danielle was born in 2014. But in 2015, Shmulik died of a heart attack at 52.
In 2019, Kultida sought to renew her residency visa on the grounds that she was in the middle of the naturalization process, but the Interior Ministry refused. It also froze the naturalization process and informed her that she had to leave the country.
Losing her visa also meant that she lost all her benefits, including health insurance, child allowance and widow’s pension.
In January 2020, the ministry issued a deportation order requiring her to leave the country by July of that year, after Danielle finished first grade. Two months later, the coronavirus pandemic erupted, and Kultida sought a deferral of the deportation order on the grounds that Danielle’s schooling had been disrupted. The ministry refused, and since then, she has been living in Israel illegally.
Lev appealed the deportation to the ministry’s appellate tribunal, which rejected her appeal. She also asked that a humanitarian exception be made in her case, but again to no avail.