Israel Arrests Foreign Couple, Israeli-born Children in Deportation Crackdown

Meanwhile, Filipina foreign worker who has been in Israel since 2006 deported with her 11-month-old baby

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Demonstration protesting the planned deportation of foreign workers and their children, Tel Aviv, July 26, 2019.
Demonstration protesting the planned deportation of foreign workers and their children, Tel Aviv, July 26, 2019.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Two married foreign workers, a Filipina woman and Turkish man, and their two Israeli-born children, aged three and two, were arrested by Israeli immigration police on Monday at their home in Tel Aviv.

Following a hearing, they may be transferred to a holding facility at Ben-Gurion Airport ahead of deportation. Given that the parents originate from different countries, immigration officials would have to decide where to send them.

Meanwhile, a Filipina who had been employed in geriatric care and her daughter, 11 months old, were deported Sunday overnight after being arrested last week for staying in Israel without a permit. Upon her arrest, the mother said she preferred to leave Israel. After a visit by the Philippines consul and the issuance of a passport to the baby, they left. The mother had been in Israel since 2006.

Geraldine Esta and her daughter being led out of her home by immigration authorities, July 23, 2019.Credit: Meged Gozani

Earlier on Sunday, hearing an appeal by Filipina citizen Geraldine Esta who was arrested last week and faces expulsion with her two children, Administrative Judge Ilan Halabga said that "normative people and children" should not be held in jail.

>> Read more: Israel Must Head Off Expulsion of Filipino Children | Opinion ■ The real heroes of Israel’s happy harvest | Opinion

Also on Sunday, Filipina national Ofresina Koanka and 12-year-old Michael James were released from detention after a week. Custody tribunal Judge Raja Marzouk ruled that he found “substantial defects in the hearing process and in the decision-making in their matter.”

Earlier this month, Haaretz reported that around 100 Filipina workers and their children born in Israel may face deportation this summer – but the actual number may be greater, say members of the Filipino community. The population authority itself confirms that the number is in the dozens. Many of the children grew up in Israel and can only speak Hebrew.

Michael James and his mother, Ofresina Koanka, on their release from detention, July 28, 2019.Credit: Meged Gozani

The Population and Immigration Authority stated that the foreign women in question had been in Israel for protracted periods without regulated status. Many of them had been arrested earlier in the year for being in the country illegally, but out of consideration, it was decided that their children could finish the school year on condition that the women would then agree to leave the country voluntarily.

In 2006 and 2010 the government made resolutions to grant status to children born to foreign workers. Children who were too young to be covered by the resolutions then but who grew up in Israel are now asking to be recognized as well, and not to be expelled to a country they have never seen before.