Migrant father of soldier serving in Gaza campaign said to face deportation

Ghana man arrived in Israel in 1991, married, and raised daughter who was given permanent status; immigrant wife granted citizenship; attorney vows to take case to Supreme Court

Illustrative: People take part in a rally against deportations of migrants, in Tel Aviv, August 13, 2022 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Illustrative: People take part in a rally against deportations of migrants, in Tel Aviv, August 13, 2022 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

An illegal migrant is facing deportation from Israel even though he has lived in the country for decades and raised a daughter who is an IDF soldier deployed in the region of the Gaza Strip, according to a Wednesday report.

The man’s legal representative said applications for residency under humanitarian regulations were rejected, as were appeals against those decisions, the Israel Hayom newspaper reported. The most recent was turned down four years ago, the report said.

His attorney, Yossi Carmeli, said the father was deeply involved in raising his daughter and had in the past applied for permission to remain legally in Israel under regulations allowing for the unification of families.

“This is a terrible miscarriage of justice,” he said. “If the district court upholds its decision, we will go to the Supreme Court.”

The report, which did not name the man, said he is 61 years old and from Ghana. He first arrived in Israel in 1991, where he met his wife, also an immigrant, and they married in 1999. The couple had two children in the ensuing years who departed the country to live in Ghana. Then in 2004, the couple had a daughter who remained in Israel.

The marriage had its “ups and downs,” the report said, and did not clarify if the couple are still married or living together. The man’s wife successfully applied for a special permit granting their daughter permission to remain in Israel, where she grew up and later was inducted into the IDF. She is now serving in a unit close to the Gaza Strip, where war has been raging since Hamas’s devastating October 7 attack on Israel. Her mother was also able to obtain Israeli citizenship, the report said.

At a recent hearing in the Tel Aviv District Court, state attorneys argued that the father had entered Israel illegally from Egypt, was caught and deported, then again returned to the country in 2010 under a different identity using a tourist permit and has remained ever since.

The Population and Immigration Authority told the outlet in a statement that the man’s many applications over the years “were discussed in the various and relevant forums and rejected after he failed to prove his eligibility. The above-mentioned person appealed to the court many times and was repeatedly asked to leave Israel, but he decided to be a law unto himself.”

In January, Interior Minister Moshe Arbel instructed immigration authorities to grant citizenship to the Philippines-born parents of soldier Cedrick Garin, who was killed during fighting in Gaza.

Sgt. First Class (res.) Cedrick Garin with his mother Imelda (right) and wife Daniela (left) in 2021. (IDF)

Arbel delivered the news to Imelda and Rico, the slain IDF reservists’ parents, during a bereavement visit, and told them his ministry would sort out the question of citizenship immediately, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

Imelda raised Cedrick in Israel alone while working as a cleaner after his father was deported when he was two, and the fallen soldier gained Israeli citizenship after completing his IDF service while Imelda held the status of temporary resident.

Illegal migration to Israel has been a hot-button issue for years. Asylum-seekers have been met with antipathy by successive Israeli governments, and face an uncertain future as the state has acknowledged refugee status only in a minuscule number of cases and has led ongoing efforts to make life difficult for them or to deport them outright.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in September that migration from African countries constituted “a real threat to Israel’s character and future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a cabinet meeting at Hakirya base in Tel Aviv on January 7, 2024. (Yariv Katz/POOL)

Some 30,000 migrants, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, are thought to be in the country, with many of them contending they are refugees from war and oppression. Most African migrants arrived in Israel through Egypt in 2007-2012, before Israel built a barrier along the desert border. Few migrants have arrived since that time.

In September, intense rioting broke out on the streets of Tel Aviv between Sudanese and Eritrean migrants with 170 injured and dozens arrested.

A special ministerial committee convened the following day and okayed widespread arrests, allowing police to use an administrative procedure that lowers the evidentiary bar for detention. The ministers also agreed to consider canceling work permits for migrants and to advance a new quasi-constitutional Basic Law on immigration.

The court in the past blocked jailing migrants for extended periods of time without trial and also struck down a move to force them to deposit 20 percent of their work salary in a fund with the money released only upon their departure from the country.

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