Published on
Haaretz (Israel)

Israel Postpones Deportation of Foreign Workers' Children

Interior Minister Eli Yishai made the decision Wednesday, claiming he did not wish to disrupt the studies of children enrolled in Israeli state-run schools.


Children of foreign workers gather for a protest against Israel's new residency criteria that could result in the deportations of hundreds of children of foreign migrant workers, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, March 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Interior Minister Eli Yishai instructed the Population and Immigration Authority Wednesday morning to postpone the deportation of children and families of foreign workers enrolled in state-run kindergartens and preschools by a few months.

Yishai delayed the deportation in order to enact the government decision to send them to their respective countries gradually, without placing undue pressure on families whose children are in the middle of the school year.

The interior minister said that although the necessary preparations for deportations had been made, he would delay the deportation out of "sensitivity" to the children who are currently enrolled in schools.

"I have instructed the enforcement [of the decision] regarding families with children learning in Israeli schools to be postponed by a number of months," Yishai said. "At this point the focus will be only on families with children who unequivocally do not fall under the conditions set by the government decision."

Yishai's announcement comes less than a week after relief organizations staged a demonstration in Tel Aviv Friday in an effort to prevent the deportation of foreign workers' children.

The deportation of families that do not meet the criteria set by the Israeli government was expected to commence this week, coinciding with the completion of preparations for arrests and the endorsement of a facility to be set up at Ben Gurion Airport, devised to detect families with children.

Hundreds of people demonstrated at the Tel Aviv park, calling on the government not to deport or incarcerate children that were born in Israel.

The demonstration was organized by relief organizations, including the Center for Assistance of Foreign Workers, the Civil Rights Union, Doctors for Civil Rights and others.

The speakers at the event included Aliza Olmert, wife of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Esther Akfiya, who participated in the Oscar-winning film 'Strangers No More,' a documentary about the Bialik-Rogozin School, whose student body comprises refugees and immigrants.

"It doesn’t matter how many pictures or decorations you put on the wall, a jail is a jail," said Rotem Ilan, the founder of the Israeli Children's Association. "These children do not belong behind bars."

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