Israel Arrests Family of Indian Migrant Workers, Including Israeli-born Children, Ahead of Deportation

Tina and Minin Lopez, who came to Israel 12 years ago to work as nurses, were detained alongside their 7-year-old daughter Eliana and their one-year-old baby

A protest against the deportation of migrant families in front of the Givon Prison in Ramle, October 2019.
Tomer Appelbaum

A family of Indian nationals residing in Israel as migrant workers, including their Israeli-born children, were arrested by inspectors from Israel's Population and Immigration Authority on Thursday morning ahead of their planned deportation.

Immigration Authority inspectors had broken into the home of the Lopez family in south Tel Aviv early Thursday morning. They detained Tina and Minin Lopez, who came to Israel from India to work as nurses 12 years ago. Their seven-year-old daughter Eliana, a second-grader who attends school in Tel Aviv, and their one-year-old toddler, were also detained. 

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The family was taken to the Beit Dagan detention facility in central Israel.

Attorney David Tadmor, who represents the family, said that "the Immigration Authority, instead of adhering to instructions by the courts, continues its bullying actions. This is a scandal. The Immigration Authority has not begun implementing the instructions of the Justice Ministry and the appelate court. It isn't authorized at all to arrest children, and isn't allowed to put out arrest warrants. We will contact the attorney general and demand that he immediately rein in the authority."

The arrest comes amid a wide crackdown on migrant workers throughout Israel. The Immigration Authority came under fire in recent weeks for arresting two Filipino, Israeli-born children as they prepared to go to school.

Thirteen-year-old Gena Antigo and 10-year-old Ralph Harel were released earlier this week on a $8,510 bail each after an appeals court ruled that their arrests and the decision to deport them and their mothers were wrong because the minors' welfare was not taken into consideration. 

The court ruling was also based on the fact that the Immigration Authority had violated a new Justice Ministry regulations, which determine that minors under the age of 12 should receive a hearing before a decision is made to deport them.

Also last week, 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 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 time frame prior to leaving for school.