Peres: Let foreign workers' kids stay

Number of children who stand to be expelled may turn out to be 800.

Peres speaking  311 AP (photo credit: Associated Press)
Peres speaking 311 AP
(photo credit: Associated Press)
President Shimon Peres on Thursday added his voice to those that have been raised against the decision to deport some 400 Hebrew-speaking, Israel-educated children of foreign workers.
In an address at Ramat Gan’s Kfar Hamaccabiah to the opening session of LEAD, a leadership development program which has been operating in Israel since 1999, Peres said that it was inconceivable that the children, born in Israel and living as Israelis, would be deported from Israel.
To deport these children would do great damage to Israel and terrible harm to the families concerned, he said.
Peres clarified that while he is in favor of formulating a serious and comprehensive migration policy, he is opposed to draconian measures that involve expelling the 400 children.
“[They] were born in Israel, speak Hebrew, and feel Israeli.
Deporting them is out of the question,” he said.
Several organizations and activists working on behalf of the children said they were gratified to have the president on their side, but were also aware that there was no reason to be euphoric about his statement, because laws related to the presidency do not give him the authority to overturn a government decision.
Meanwhile, over the last three weeks, roughly 500 families have submitted applications to the Interior Ministry requesting to stay in the country.
Fifty of the applications were refused on the spot because the applicants didn’t meet the government’s criteria of age, registration in the Israeli education system or continuous residence in Israel.
Those applications that were accepted will be analyzed by Interior Ministry officials who will decide whether or not to grant the children permanent residency status and their families with renewable temporary residence permits.
Aid organizations claim that the number of children who are to be deported may be double the amount originally believed and that 800, not 400, children, stand to be deported for failing to meet the government’s criteria or because of logistical or bureaucratic difficulties.
Volunteers from children’s advocacy group Israeli Children and Hotline for Migrant Workers are on hand at the Interior Ministry offices to assist families in filling out their applications.
Families have until August 31 to submit their applications.
Deportations are scheduled to begin on September 8.
The Interior Ministry is offering aid packages including free plane tickets and baggage shipment for families that agree to leave voluntarily.