By Argyll Geducos and Agence France-Presse
Malacañang assured on Monday that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) will help hundreds of Filipinos in Israel who are at risk of being deported.
A Filipino migrant worker and her Israeli-born teenage son were in the process of being deported from the Jewish state on Sunday night after successive court appeals failed, an NGO lobbying for children of migrants said.
Rosemarie Perez was arrested by immigration officials along with her 13-year-old son Rohan on Tuesday for overstaying her work visa.
Perez is just one of the hundreds of Filipino families in Israel caught up in a legal battle that has put them at risk of deportation.
Many of the 28,000 Filipinos in Israel arrived to work as caregivers and domestic helpers, but the United Children of Israel (UCI) association reported that some 600 families are at risk of being expelled after losing their residency status.
“I’m sure the Secretary of Foreign Affairs will do something about that. Hindi natin papabayaan ‘yan (We will not neglect them),” Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
On Sunday night, Perez and her son 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).
“They’re flying out tonight,” she said, adding that Rohan had never been outside the Jewish state before.
Earlier Sunday a court rejected Perez’s latest plea to stay, immigration authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad told AFP.
“She has been here illegally for 10 years,” Haddad said.
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.
Last week, migrants, their children and native Israelis staged a protest in Tel Aviv against the policy of deporting Israeli-born children of migrants.
Ronan has “never been to the Philippines, he doesn’t speak the language, Hebrew is his first tongue,” said Franco, adding that it had been his dream to serve in the Israeli army.
“He sees this country as his own,” she said.
Haddad could not immediately confirm that the mother and son were on their way out of the country.
She said that Rohan’s father was a Turkish national who left Israel several years ago.
Many of the 28,000 — largely Christian –Filipinos in Israel arrived to work as caregivers and domestic workers, but according to UCI, some 600 families could now face expulsion after losing their residency status.
Israel has long-term fears about maintaining a Jewish majority in the country founded as a national homeland for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust.
Around 100 foreign workers have been arrested in Israel in recent weeks, most of them were from the Philippines.