Deportation of Filipino mom, son from Israel stopped at 11th hour
JERUSALEM — The deportation of a female Filipino migrant worker and her Israeli-born teenage son was delayed at the 11th hour to await a final decision on their fate, a children’s advocate group said on Monday.
Rosemarie Perez was arrested by immigration officials along with her 13-year-old son Rohan on Tuesday for remaining in the country illegally.
They were taken to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on Sunday night but later taken off the plane, said Beth Franco of the United Children of Israel (UCI) association.
The lawyer for the family, Carmel Bensur, has requested an urgent hearing on their status in a bid to have them remain in Israel, she told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
On Sunday, a court had rejected Perez’s plea to stay, immigration authority spokesperson Sabine Haddad told AFP.
“She has been here illegally for 10 years,” Haddad said.
UCI argues that it is cruel to send Rohan—and other children of migrants—to a country they have never seen and where they do not speak the language.
Last week, migrants, their children and Israelis staged a protest in Tel Aviv against the policy of deporting Israeli-born children of migrants.
Many of the 28,000 — largely Christian — Filipinos in Israel arrived to work as caregivers and maids, but according to UCI, some 600 families could now face expulsion over a loss of residency status.
Visas were conditioned on the requirement that they do not start a family in the country apart from certain exceptions, the association says.
The issue has particular resonance in Israel, where there are long-term fears about maintaining a Jewish majority in the country founded as a national homeland for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust.
On Sunday night, Perez and her son were under escort at Ben Gurion International Airport, waiting to be put aboard an El Al flight to Hong Kong, from where they would fly to Manila, Franco said.
Never been outside
She said Rohan had never been outside the Jewish state before.
Rohan has “never been to the Philippines, he doesn’t speak the language, Hebrew is his first tongue,” Franco said, adding that it had been the boy’s dream to serve in the Israeli Army.
“He sees this country as his own,” she said.
According to Haddad, Rohan’s father was a Turkish national who left Israel several years ago.
According to media reports, 34 Filipino families have been arrested while more than 600 Filipino families could face expulsion.
In Manila, Malacañang said on Monday that it would come to the aid of overseas Filipino workers in Israel who face deportation.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said: “I’m sure the secretary of foreign affairs will do something about that. We will not turn our back on them.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs had earlier appealed to Israel for the humane treatment of Filipinos there. —Reports from AFP and Julie M. Aurelio
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