Two Israeli-born children of Filipina workers set for possible deportation were released on bail Friday along with their two mothers, with each family depositing NIS 30,000 ($8,500).
The families raised the bail money from friends who study with the children at Tel Aviv schools, the Ynet news site reported.
The four had been held at Ramle’s Givon Prison for several days ahead of their expected deportation, a final decision on which has not yet been made.
As the court deliberated freeing the families on bail, several dozen people demonstrated for their release outside.
הפגנה מתקיימת מחוץ לבית הדין לעררים, שם מתקיים דיון בערעור שהגישו גנה בת ה-12 ואמה באמצעות עורך דינן עו״ד דוד תדמור נגד גירושן מהארץ @maya_aidan
(צילום: UCI) pic.twitter.com/oDxmfzLSz6
— חדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) November 1, 2019
On Thursday hundreds of students, their teachers and parents protested outside the prison calling to free Gena Antigo, 13, and Ralph Harel, 10.
They were reportedly taken into custody despite an understanding with the Interior Ministry that immigration authorities would not target children at or on their way to or from school.
Hearings have not been held for the children and their mothers.
“We’ve been walking to school together for years, go to each other’s houses, we’re like sisters,” Gena’s best friend Sivan told Haaretz. “I’m scared she won’t be here with me anymore. I don’t know why they want to deport her, she’s a wonderful girl. I’m going to demonstrate with all my friends so they release her.”
The arrests came as part of the Population Immigration and Border Authority’s new crackdown on foreign workers who overstay their work visas.
Earlier this year, Israel for the first time ever deported Israeli-born children.
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 education 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.