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Prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu
Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
PM's wife appeals to Yishai over child's deportation
Sara Netanyahu writes urgent missive to interior minister requesting reprieve for 4-year-old Ofek Castilio, daughter of foreign worker from Philippines
The prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, has once again intervened on behalf of Israel's foreign workers.

 

In an urgent missive she sent Interior minister Eli Yishai on Tuesday, she requested that he prevent the deportation of four-year-old Ofek Castilio from the Philippines, who was arrested with her mother, an illegal worker, by the Immigration Department's Oz Unit.

 

 

Foreign worker aid groups expressed concerns over the possibility that this was a first step in deporting other children of the same legal status.

 

The interior minister's office confirmed that they received the missive and said: "The letter was received. Minister Yishai has met with the prime minister's wife in the past and much appreciated her ideas and advice on the children's issue.

 

"According to professionals in the field, this case is not deemed to have fulfilled the conditions sited by the inter-ministerial committee to allow her to remain in Israel and is not remotely connected to the temporary relief measure determined by the Interior Minister."

 

Ofek's mother arrived in Israel with a legitimate work visa and her daughter was born in Israel and is being educated at one of Tel Aviv's municipal kindergartens.

 

Yet in a dramatic turn of events Tuesday night, four-year-old Ofek 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 seeking an order nisi with regards to the deportation.

 

The court accepted the plea and postponed the deportation. The organization hopes that the girl will be released into the care of her father, who is in the country legally, temporarily until a final decision is made. The mother will most likely be sent back to the Ben Gurion Airport holding facility.

 

The Israeli Children organization said Tuesday night: "The Oz unit of the Population and Immigration Authority has systematically sabotaged the Israeli Children organization's efforts to cancel the deportation of Ofek Castilio."

 

Expired reprieve

In March, Yishai instructed the Population and Immigration Authority to postpone the deportation of foreign workers' children who attend Israeli schools by several months.

 

The reprieve expired last month and foreign worker aid groups said that this arrest is "an unequivocal sign that the deportation of children being educated in Israel's education system who do not fulfill the criteria determined by the government in august 2010 on the matter of granting resident status to the children of foreign workers' and their families."

 

In response to the Ofek's arrest the Population and Immigration Authority noted that: "One of the conditions set explicitly by the government is that the child must be a student at a kindergarten for at least one year before the decision was made.

 

"Thus far, as long as we found that the children did not fulfill the criteria with regards to minimal age, the type of educational institution wasn't looked into. In this case we found that the child was far from eligible under the criteria, including the fact she will only be going to nursery school in the next school year.

 

Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report

 

 

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