Over a thousand people marched through central Tel Aviv on Saturday night,
calling on the government to cancel the deportation of hundreds of foreign
workers and their children, set to take place in the coming
Chanting “No children are illegal” and “No more deportations,”
the protesters made their way from the Habima national theater to the
headquarters of the Interior Ministry, where they held a rally.
screened videos of the arrests of foreign workers and their children made by the
ministry’s Oz immigration task force. The filmed scenes were met by boos from
The rally was held a little over a week after Interior
Minister Eli Yishai approved requests for residency permits by 257 foreign
workers whose children had been born in Israel. Yishai also ruled that 118
families would face deportation.
He has yet to rule on the status of an
additional 260 families.
In August 2010 the cabinet set a series of
criteria under which children of foreign workers would be allowed to stay in
Israel. Some of the criteria stipulated that the parents had to have entered
Israel legally and were living in Israel for over five years, and that the
children were enrolled in an Israeli school. The parents of some 700 children
who did not automatically meet the criteria lodged appeals, and up until
mid-February none had yet received an answer.
Noa Galili, spokeswoman of
the NGO Israeli Children, which organized Saturday night’s demonstration, said
the protestors were “asking to be allowed to stay and for the government to
approve status for all those children who had no other country to go
Parents at the rally, most of whom came with small children in tow,
spoke of a feeling of being in limbo. They said they did not know if they and
their children would be allowed to stay in Israel or whether they would be
forced to leave for a country their children had never seen.