Deportation of Filipino worker, Israel-born son delayed after protest on plane

Rosemary Peretz and her son Rohan, 13, back in Israeli custody; court had rejected their appeal earlier in day to stay in country

Filipino children carry banners during a protest against deportation in Tel Aviv on August 6, 2019. (Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)
Filipino children carry banners during a protest against deportation in Tel Aviv on August 6, 2019. (Gil COHEN-MAGEN / AFP)

The deportation of a Filipino migrant worker and her Israeli-born teenage son was delayed on Sunday night after the woman vocally protested their expulsion while on board the plane, prompting their removal from the aircraft.

Rosemary Peretz and her son Rohan, 13, were escorted back into Israeli custody after the incident.

The Tel Aviv Court of Appeals ruled earlier in the day that Peretz and her son could be deported from Israel, rejecting their appeal.

Perez was arrested by immigration officials along with her son on Tuesday for overstaying her work visa, immigration authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP. “She has been here illegally for 10 years,” Haddad said.

On Sunday night the two were under escort at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, waiting to be put aboard an El Al flight to Hong Kong, from where they would fly to Manila, said Beth Franco of United Children of Israel (UCI).

Had they left the country, they would be the first family with school-age children to be forcibly deported after a series of arrests in recent weeks. Around 100 foreign workers have been arrested, most from the Philippines.

Attorneys Carmel and Boaz Ben Tzur filed an injunction to appeal the decision.

Rohan Perez, a student at the Bialik Rogozin school in south Tel Aviv, suffered from “social and psychological difficulties” for which he received treatment and counseling, the lawyers said.

“In his childhood years he learned in a special education program, and last year he was provided psychological treatment from a mental health center on behalf of the Health Ministry. In the opinion of the center’s caregivers — authorities recognized by the State of Israel — his removal will cause him irreparable harm,” the appeal said.

It said that an interim injunction to prevent the boy’s removal would be appropriate in light of his vulnerable condition.

“The removal of a 13-year-old boy who was born in Israel and lived his whole life here is unacceptable,” it said.

Foreign workers, their children and supporters take part in a protest against the deportation of the children of Filipino workers in Tel Aviv, on August 6, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

UCI argues that it is cruel to send Rohan — and other children of migrants — to a country they have never seen and where they do not speak the language.

A social worker who prepared a report on the boy’s case wrote that “his removal to the Philippines at this critical stage of his development and his removal from his familiar environment will likely cause irreversible damage and a severe behavioral response,” the Ynet news site reported.

A report from the Population and Immigration Authority said the boy “grew up in Israel but was educated according to Filipino cultural values. He sees himself as belonging to a subgroup within the state. His mother educated him and strengthened his connection with his family members. The existence of an extended family in [the Philippines] should ease the arrival and absorption of the minor in the Philippines, to his benefit.”

Rosemary Perez, 42, came to the country in 2000 to work as a caregiver, but seven years later, her employer died and she remained in Israel illegally, most recently working as a cleaner. She said she had never left Israel after her legal employment ended because she wanted her son to live in the country. She said she did not have any close family in the Philippines, and that the boy’s father was a Turkish citizen who had returned to Turkey.

Since their arrest Tuesday by the immigration authority, the mother and son have been held since in a detention facility at Ben-Gurion Airport.

They are the third family with school-age children that have been arrested in the last several weeks. The other two families have been fighting a legal battle against deportation.

Last week migrants, their children and native Israelis staged a protest in Tel Aviv against the policy of deporting Israeli-born children of migrants.

The deportation of foreign workers, whether by agreement or forced, has faced criticism due to the impact it can have on their children who are born in the country, some of whom spend years in the Israeli system.

Regulations stipulate that female foreign workers who become pregnant must send their babies home, as a condition for their visas’ renewal. But many fail to do so and stay in the country illegally doing menial jobs, to give their children a better life than they would get in their home country.

Some 60,000 foreign caregivers — most of them women — are currently employed in Israel, according to the Hotline for Migrant Workers, an advocacy and rights organization. Half of them are from the Philippines, with much smaller numbers from Nepal (15 percent), India, Sri Lanka and Moldova (10% each) and the rest from various Eastern European countries.

AFP contributed to this report.

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