Migrants moving house to house to avoid deportation

Children of foreign workers in the country illegally are taking steps to hide from the authorities in Tel Aviv, NGOs and residents say.

By
March 11, 2011 03:10
3 minute read.
Foreign Workers' kids at a protest in Tel Aviv

foreign workers' kids 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Children of foreign workers in the country illegally are dealing with great uncertainty as their deportation looms, and are taking steps to hide from the authorities in Tel Aviv, NGOs and residents said on Thursday.

At the The Lord Our Righteousness Ministry in south Tel Aviv’s Neveh Sha’anan neighborhood, “Ruby,” a young Filipina woman said the children at the church’s daycare center are “very afraid, very disturbed, because they never know what will happen and when."

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“The parents and children are staying every night at a different house with different people, and always calling in the morning to check if we are open or if it’s safe to come. Sometimes there are very few children here, because the parents are afraid to be outside.”

Ruby said that the 20 or so babies and 15 children aged three and four at the evangelical church’s daycare center are among the 400 children who don’t fit the government’s criteria to stay in Israel and are not enrolled in state-run kindergartens or preschools, and thus face deportation in the coming days. She said that recently she and other staff members have tried to bring a sense of normalcy to the childrens' lives, by planning a Purim party and holding regular activities, but that nonetheless, the children can sense something is amiss.

“They see it in their parents, they can understand by watching what their parents are going through.”

Rotem Ilan, of the NGO “Israeli Children,” said “the children are always feeling uncertainty and stress.”

When asked if she was aware of efforts to evade the immigration police enforcement campaign, Ilan said, “We know about all types of initiatives, but we don’t tell people what to do.”

She added that she had heard of a lot of different efforts to hide children, but didn’t know enough to give a general assessment of the phenomenon.

Ilan pointed a finger at the government, which she said is focusing on the 400 children and their families instead of the real problem, “which is the lack of a real policy on foreign workers. They focus on these children when the revolving door policy that brings in more and more foreign workers remains unchanged.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) announced that the government has decided to delay the deportation of children enrolled in state-run kindergartens and day schools.

The deportation of the remainder of the 400 children could begin as early as in the next few days, the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority said on Thursday.

The deportations follow a cabinet decision last August 1 that approved the deportation of approximately 400 of the 1,200 children of illegal residents of Israel. NGOs estimate that of the 400 children slated for deportation, approximately half are enrolled in state-run schools.

“After finishing all the necessary requirements, and sensitive attention paid to the public, I have delayed the enforcement of deportation for those families with children already studying in educational institutions within Israel,” Yishai said in a statement released by his ministry.

“At this stage, we will begin with the children of families for whom there is no disagreement as to their noncompliance with government-agreed conditions,” he said.


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