"Do not expel children! AT" The association of Filipino mothers in Israel, the United Children of Israel, had named the demonstration, which mobilized a thousand people on Tuesday, August 6 in Tel Aviv. The participants denounced the Israeli government's plan to expel this summer about fifty children of immigrant workers, born in Israel and without legal status.
Earlier Tuesday, a Filipino worker, Rosemarie Perez, and her 13-year-old son, Rohan, were arrested in Tel Aviv by agents of the United States Attorney General. Immigration in the context of the referral procedure. They were placed in a detention center. Several similar cases were reported in July: incarcerated and then released, mothers and children have a forty-five-day period to leave the country.
On Tuesday evening, the protesters, mostly Filipinos but also Indians, Sri Lankans, Nepali and Israel, called for the release of the detained workers with their children. and asked Israel to put an end to the evictions.
Foreign workers arrived in Israel from the 1990s to fill labor needs in the building, agricultural sector and home help for elderly or disabled people. The Ministry of the Interior currently numbers 100,374 legal immigrant workers, of whom 56,311 work in home care. In this area, half of them are Filipinos, mostly women. In addition, about 100,000 workers, who are lawfully entering the country, did not leave after their visas expired.
"They have nothing to lose"
According to the "Foreign Workers Act", passed in 1991, they have a renewable visa every year for five years. In the home care sector, it can be extended if the employer-patient is still alive at the end of this period. If he dies before, the worker can be transferred to another certified employer.
The state is in need of this cheap labor, but wants to prevent any long-term anchors. Before obtaining their work visa, applicants must declare that they have no first-degree relatives in Israel and that they do not intend to to found a family there. If a worker becomes pregnant, she may remain in Israel until the child is born, but must then decide whether to leave with him or to send her to her country of origin for to be able to renew his own Israeli visa. But women often remain illegally in Israel with their child (ren); they grow up there without any legal status. They believe that they will, however, have a better future than in their country of origin.
The state needs this cheap manpower, but wants to prevent any long-term anchoring
"Many parents do not report to the Israeli authorities and send their child to school here. They have nothing to lose because, if they are declared, they are likely to be expelled, explains Jean-Marc Liling, a lawyer specializing in the law of migrants and refugees. Parents also use children's praise because it's their best guarantee for staying here in the long run. AT"
The Israeli authorities started to proceed with the expulsion of children in 2003. Civil society organizations, such as the Tel Aviv Hotline, then mobilized. In 2007, the Ministry of the Interior set up a procedure granting a permanent residence permit to children of foreign workers born in Israel: 500 from they received it and their parents got a temporary residence permit allowing them to work. In 2009, the state has reiterated threats of deportation. After a long mobilization, the process was halted and 2,500 individuals (parents and children) were regularized.
"Question of Identity"
Several months ago, the government announced the resumption of incentives for voluntary departure and evictions. He gave the families a break until July 15, the end of the school year. The first arrests then began. The Hotline estimates that in 2018 a few hundred children left for their country of origin with their parent (s); in 2019, they would be between 100 and 200.
To justify their right to stay in Israel, some young Filipino protesters claimed on Tuesday night their local affiliation: "I'm Israeli, I went to school here, I'm talking hebrew, I'm eating israel. And above all, I have nowhere else to go, proclaimed one of them on the stage. A few meters further, contained by a cordon of policemen, about fifty counter-protesters shouted Â "Ã Â © strangers" of Â "returns[r] in [eux] AT".
Itâ € ™ is "The question of the identity of the State of Israel" which is at stake here, between "Who is israel and who can feel israel, explains lawyer Jean-Marc Liling. Nobody has thought about Israel being attractive to non-Jews, that they may feel part of this country. AT"