Migrant Workers Hotline goes to court over kindergarteners

19 kids born to foreign workers had applications to remain in Israel rejected because they don't meet age criteria.

The Migrant Workers Hotline filed petitions on Monday to the Tel Aviv District Court for Administrative Matters on behalf of 19 kindergarten students born to foreign workers in the hopes that the court will reverse the state’s decision to deport them.
All the 19 children’s families’ applications to remain in Israel were rejected by the Interior Ministry because the children failed to meet the age criteria for being allowed to stay.
In July the cabinet voted that children had to be at least five years old and enrolled in the public education system to be eligible for permanent status. The children in question are all enrolled in the system but their applications were rejected because they were less than five years old when they filed the claim. In some cases the children were only days away from their fifth birthday when the application deadline arrived.
“These children are part of the education system, study in kindergarten, and sit side by side in class with children who were deemed eligible – only their application was denied because of a few days or weeks they are missing,” said the group’s spokeswoman.
“Eighteen out of the 19 are families of Filipino caregivers who for years have been taking care of our grandparents and accompanying us in our most sensitive times. They are the ones who now must battle so their children will not be deported from Israel, the only home they have ever known.”
“The cabinet’s decision stated that borderline cases would go before a special exceptions committee.
Despite the fact that these are borderline cases per se, the Interior Ministry rejected their applications for permanent status out of hand, without referring them to an exceptions committee,” said the group’s lawyer, Osnat Cohen Lifshitz.
“We believe that they should be referred to a committee that will examine every individual case according to its merits.”
The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority responded that the government had set out clear criteria regarding the applications and that they would only address the matter in court.
The authority’s spokeswoman commented that immigration officials were studying all of the applications that were submitted to them and that they would decide which to approve and which to send before the exceptions committee.
“These 19 children don’t qualify for the committee because they didn’t meet the basic criteria set out by the government,” she said.