Yishai grants status to 257 kids in Israel illegally

Additional 118 families have applications rejected, 260 cases are delayed; ruling follows new criteria set last summer.

January 23, 2012 13:10
2 minute read.
Foreign workers' children protest

Foreign workers children 311 R. (photo credit: Reuters)

Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Monday approved residency status for the families of 257 children of foreign workers.

The decision leaves out 118 families, whose requests were rejected. A further 260 had their cases delayed for the time being.

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The ruling follows a government decision in August 2010 to set a series of criteria for allowing children to stay in Israel, including that their parents entered Israel legally and they are enrolled in the Israeli school system.

Children must be in Israel for at least five years, and either have been born here or have arrived before age 13.

The decision meant that an estimated 1,200 children who did not fit the criteria would face deportation. Parents of 701 of these children issued requests for residency, which have been examined by a special government committee set up to handle the matter.

The Interior Ministry said Monday that the decision was made following months of work and in keeping with the recommendations of the government committee. The ministry called on those who don’t fit the criteria to begin preparations to leave Israel in the very near future.

During a meeting of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers on Monday, committee head Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) decried the deportations of children who are “Israeli in every way” and called for an end to the “revolving door” policy of bringing more foreign workers to Israel and breaking up foreign worker families that are already in the country.

He also called on the Interior Ministry to coordinate with NGOs in helping locate those families who must be notified of their impending deportation.

Also during the meeting, the head of the Population Authority’s foreign workers branch said that they would not carry out arrests for the time being of parents of children whose requests for legal residency are still pending, and that their employers will not face penalties ether. These parents have often faced arrest and the inability to work while their children’s cases are pending, causing them what they say are hardships in maintaining their households.

Following the announcement of Yishai’s decision, the NGO Israeli Children slammed the ruling, saying that Yishai “has not decided to let 257 children stay in Israel, he decided to deport 950 children.”

“This is a sad day for Israel when only 257 of the children who were born and raised in this country will be allowed to stay,” the NGO’s press release continued.

One of the 260 whose case has been delayed is Evelyn Diaz, 17, who came with her mother to Israel when she was 8 years old.

Diaz said she fits the criteria from August 2010, but has still not received word on whether or not she will receive legal status in Israel.

“It’s a very hard thing to constantly be in limbo, never knowing what they’re going to decide,” Diaz said, adding that she has spent the past year-and-a-half working as a dental assistant to support her mother and infant brother, after her mother’s work visa ran out this past year.

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