A Filipino couple and their two Israel-born children lost an appeal against their pending deportation on Thursday.
In its decision, the Tel Aviv Appeals Court ruled that the “Population and Immigration Authority should act to expel them as soon as possible.” It later set their deportation for next Sunday.
Sheila Velasco and Randy Bakaru and their two daughters were arrested Sunday and taken to the Givon prison in Ramle ahead of their planned deportation to the Philippines. The arrests were part of the Population Immigration and Border Authority’s new crackdown on foreign workers who overstay their work visas.
They were the fourth family with school-aged children to be arrested in the last several weeks.
The couple has been living in Israel for 20 years and their daughters, Mika, aged 13, and Maureen, 10, study at the Balfour school in Tel Aviv.
Dozens of the school friends protested outside the court on Wednesday, with many breaking into tears as they chanted “Mika, Maureen, we are with you.”
Israeli 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, often out of a desire to give their children a better life than they would get in their home country.
Last week, a Filipino woman and her Israel-born teenage son were forcibly deported from Israel after successive court appeals failed to stop the measure. Rosemary Peretz and her son Rohan were put on a plane and deported under guard, a day after a similar attempt was stopped at the last moment when the mother began to struggle while on the aircraft.
They were the first family with school-aged children to be expelled after a series of arrests in recent weeks. Around 100 foreign workers have been arrested, most from the Philippines.
Deportations 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.
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.
Agencies contributed to this report.