About 200 foreign workers and social activists demonstrated in Tel Aviv Saturday. The protestors are concerned that a new unit established in order to encourage illegal foreign workers to leave Israel will also expel families with children born in the country.
One of the participants in the rally, a 34-year-old woman who moved to Israel from Columbia 15 years ago, is concerned about the prospect of expulsion. She says that she has two children, aged 5 and 7, who were fathered by an Israeli man.
"I feel at home here. I haven't been in Columbia in 15 years," she said. "My children know that I may be expelled and they too are scared. Every time they see a police officer on the street, they become scared."
Although the woman, who asked to be identified only as M., no longer lives with her Israeli partner, her children are in regular contact with him. The woman's five-year-old child told Ynet: "I love Israel. I want to stay here, because I like playing with my friends here. My dad is here too, and I want to be here with dad."
M. says that if she is forced to leave the country she will take her children with her, even though she realizes they will enjoy a better life in Israel.
'Expelling children an injustice'
Meanwhile, director of the Hotline for Migrant Workers, Shevy Korzen, vowed to hold more protests in the future. She said social groups are considering legal measures in a bid to avert the expulsions.
"There is no reason for the children to be expelled. These are Israeli children in every way," she said. "I heard warnings that as of August 1 children will no longer constitute a reason for keeping the parents in Israel. This is harassment directed at a very weak community."
"Expelling the children is simply an injustice," Korzen said. "We will embark on a public struggle, we will have petitions, and we will organize rallies."