Judge stays deportation from Israel of 4-year-old born to foreign workers -
In a dramatic turn of events Tuesday night, four-year-old Ofek Castilio and her mother were taken off a plane that was already on the runway after the Israeli Children organization submitted an urgent administrative plea before the District Court.
This took place after PM's wife, Sara Netanyahu, has once again intervened on behalf of Israel's foreign workers and wrote urgent missive to interior minister requesting reprieve for the 4-year-old Ofek Castilio, daughter of foreign worker from Philippines
The 4-year-old child born to foreign workers in Israel who was set to be deported last night was removed from the plane with her mother just moments before it took off, after the child's father rushed to the airport with a court order staying the deportation. Judge Shaul Manheim issued the temporary order, staying the deportation until a special hearing can be held on Thursday.
The Interior Ministry was planning to deport 4-year-old Ofek, whose mother, Nancy, is from the Philippines. The move was in line with a new policy decided last August, but whose implementation was delayed in March.
The father gave the court three reasons to stay the deportation: Ofek's father is legally employed; he should have had 72 hours to appeal the deportation order, although her mother supposedly waived this right; and it is inconceivable that a child should be deported without being able to say goodbye to her father.
Ofek was born in Israel after her mother arrived in the country on a work visa. She was enrolled last year in a prekindergarten run by the Tel Aviv municipality. She was registered this year, as well.
Yesterday morning, the Israel's Population and Immigration Authority arrested Ofek and her mother and took them to a holding facility at Ben-Gurion International Airport.
]Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote an urgent letter to Interior Minister Eli Yishai, calling on him to prevent the girl's deportation.
"I am hopeful that the Interior Ministry will show generosity and decide that any children enrolled in the education system will not be deported," she wrote. "I ask you, please, Eli, to prevent the deportation and allow her to go back to kindergarten next year," Netanyahu wrote.
Last March, Yishai announced his decision to postpone the deportation of foreign workers' children enrolled in Israeli schools or kindergartens. The postponement expired last month, and yesterday marks the first move by the Interior Ministry to deport a child enrolled in the education system.
According to the government's policy last year, children who are in the Israeli education system but who do not meet the criteria determined by the cabinet are to be deported.
The Population and Immigration Authority said: "The deportation of the family was done according to law and in keeping with the cabinet decision from August 2010, which determined the criteria for legalizing the status of illegal residents and their children. In implementing the decision, actions have been taken over the past five months, and this morning a Filipina living in Israel illegally for the past nine years was arrested. The mother and daughter underwent a legal procedure and signed a form requesting they be flown out as soon as possible. As a result, the flight was arranged and when they were on the plane on the runway, the interim court order was issued."
Ofek clearly does not meet the criteria to remain in the country according to the cabinet decision. Sources in assistance groups for foreign workers say they see the deportation as a "baptism by fire" ¬ an attempt to test the public waters before deporting children who are close to meeting the criteria but who do not actually meet them.
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