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Israel orders deportation of autistic Filipino teen; Lapid urges review of decision

PMO says it will ask for an additional hearing after inter-ministerial body rejected 16-year-old’s request for residency, finding ‘no special humanitarian reasons’ to justify move

Illustrative: Filipino workers, their children and activists take part at a protest against deportation in Tel Aviv, June 24, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Illustrative: Filipino workers, their children and activists take part at a protest against deportation in Tel Aviv, June 24, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israeli authorities on Thursday rejected the request of an autistic Filipino girl to obtain a residency permit, informing her that she has 30 days to leave the country.

The decision was handed down by an inter-ministerial body, which found that the 16-year-old’s request “does not raise special humanitarian reasons that justify granting status in Israel,” according to the Haaretz daily, which reported that the girl was sent from the Philippines to Israel at the age of 10 after she was abused and abandoned by her family.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office said in a statement that it will request the committee hold an additional hearing to review the decision: “The prime minister has said that every effort should be exhausted to ensure that the girl remains in Israel and receives the appropriate professional and emotional support.”

Rights groups who testified on the girl’s behalf told the inter-ministerial committee that she initially lived with her father who also mistreated her and kept her in a locked room for most of the day.

He was eventually deported for residing in Israel illegally, leaving the girl without any family support.

About three years ago, the teen was found by welfare authorities wandering the streets of Tel Aviv. Haaretz said she was then diagnosed with autism and PTSD.

Tomer Moskowitz, director of the Population and Immigration Authority. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Citing an organization representing the teen, Haaretz said she does not remember her mother tongue as she came to Israel at a young age.

Tomer Moskowitz, director-general of the Population and Immigration Authority, said in the decision to deport her that “there is no doubt that her case is not simple at all, the applicant suffered severe abuse in her childhood, parental abandonment, violence and neglect.”

But he added that “granting status in Israel is no small thing.”

“Who knows, she might even renew her ties with her parents,” he wrote.

Israel regularly deports foreign workers and their children, many of whom are Filipino.

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.

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.

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