Six-year-old A.J. Mathias was released from detention with her mother, an Filipino migrant worker, after a Petah Tikva District Court granted them 20 days in order to allow an orderly departure from Israel, along with the girl's father. The two were released on NIS 30,000 bond.
Israeli-born A.J., who finished kindergarten last week, and her mother, Annalyn, were arrested on Sunday and were slated to be deported immediately. This is the first time a child who is a part of the education system is arrested before being expelled.
Annalyn had come to Israel several years ago with a work permit, but as in many other cases, she lost the permit when she had A.J., making her continued stay in Israel after the birth illegal.
“The court clearly and definitively stated that holding children in jail must be the last possible option, and that release on bail should always be considered as a way of meeting the law’s requirements while also avoiding serious and disproportionate harm to a minor,” said attorney Guy Brand, who petitioned the court on behalf of the family.
Rotem Ilan from the Israeli Children NGO welcomed the court decision. “I’m pleased that the court also understands that there’s no place in jail for a child,” she said.
“With that, I’m ashamed that a country that brings so many foreign workers here relates to them as objects and not as human beings. A.J. was born at a time when the State of Israel allowed her and her mother to stay and live in Israel, and now she’s being expelled retroactively because of a situation we ourselves have created,” she said.
Two years ago, the state granted an amnesty of sorts to certain children and their families who could prove that they met specific criteria. A.J.’s family never applied for such status because at the time the girl was too young to meet the criteria that had been set. Today A.J. would meet the criteria, however now she will not be given a chance to apply. She, as hundreds like her, is now facing deportation.
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