The state is seeking to deport a Nepalese woman and her two children to Nepal, even though the children, who were born in Israel, are citizens of India.
The Population and Immigration Authority said on Thursday that it planned to put Ishora Uprita and her children, Shira, aged 4, and Michael, aged 9, on a plane on Friday. The flight goes to Nepal with a stopover in India, so “if she wants to, she can arrange their status in Nepal, and if she wants to, she can remain in India with her children, since there is free movement between the two countries,” wrote Elimelech Wechsler, the official in charge of border control, in his decision.
But an appellate custody tribunal in Tel Aviv has blocked their deportation for now and asked the Immigration Authority to respond to the family’s appeal by Sunday. The family’s attorney, David Tadmor, argued that deportation would break up the family unit since Uprita can’t obtain legal status in India.
For the past week, she and her children have been in Givon Prison, awaiting their deportation. Custody Judge Ilan Halevga has ordered them to stay there until Monday’s hearing.
The children, whose father is Indian, were never registered with the Nepalese Embassy in Israel. Consequently, they aren’t considered Nepalese citizens and would have no legal status if they went there.
They do have Indian citizenship and Indian passports, which the Immigration Authority pressured the father to obtain for them so they could be deported. He works in Israel as a home health aide but lives in a different town and only sees his children about once every two months. He doesn’t help with providing for them.
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In his appeal, Tadmor charged that the state is trying “to force the mother, through the inhuman threat of separation from her children, to cooperate in arranging the children’s legal status in Nepal, while cynically exploiting the fact that the mother is in custody. This conduct in itself justifies releasing the appellants from custody on bail immediately.”
Tadmor, who visited the family in jail, also warned that the children are in bad shape. “They have no changes of clothing and their hygiene is terrible,” he wrote. “The children asked for soap but weren’t allowed it. The 4-year-old girl didn’t get food suitable for her age. The children looked very dirty and didn’t communicate. The mother cried the whole time.”
Uprita entered Israel legally in 2007 to work as a home health aide, but her visa was not renewed after her son was born. She and her daughter were arrested last Thursday. Her son, who was visiting his father at the time, was arrested that same day.
The custody judge who originally heard the case, Raja Marzook, said he saw no reason to release the family from detention “at this stage." Nor did he agree that their deportation was either illegal or unreasonable, even though a clinical psychologist who had treated the children said that being deported would cause them “severe harm.” The psychologist said both children suffer from anxiety, and the son has been a victim of violence and wets his bed.