Foreign workers' kids write to PM: This is my home
Ministerial forum for deportation of foreign workers slated to meet Tuesday. Ahead of discussion, children of foreign workers send letters asking to be allowed to remain in Israel. 'My dream is to grow up, to study, to serve in IDF, and to be part of Israeli society,' writes 12-year-old from Colombia
The deportation of 1,200 children of foreign workers was temporarily pushed back to November 1, however the ministerial forum charged with solving the dilemma is slated to meet Tuesday. Serving in the forum are the finance minister, the interior minister, and the justice minister.
Ahead of their meeting, dozens of foreign workers' children sent emotional letters to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the ministers, and members of Knesset. Ynet has obtained some of the letters.
A 12-year-old boy, who came to Israel from Colombia when he was five, wrote: "Dear Prime Minister, I have been living in the Land of Israel for seven years with my family. I was in nursery school and I studied at school like any Israeli child who was born and lives in the Land of Israel. My dream is to grow up, to study, and to serve in the Israel Defense Forces, and, ultimately, to start a family and be part of Israeli society.
"I don't see myself living in any other country because this is my land, and this is my home. I am turning to you, dear Mr. Prime Minister, because you are the only one who can help me realize my dream."
A 12-year-old girl wrote in her letter about being the daughter of a foreign worker. "My mom and I were blessed with receiving an Israeli identity card, but, unfortunately, there are many people and friends who study with me, who live near me, who are candidates for deportation. Sometimes, they would arrest my mother on the street. All this time, I was afraid they would take my mother away from me.
One of letters sent to prime minister
"You have no idea what it's like to live in constant fear of deportation, when people look at you from on high, as if you're not worthy, as if you are second class. I don't understand how we always talk about democracy, equality, and children's rights at school, and on the other hand, every basic right to a normal, stable, and secure life is violated."
Three girls from Tel Aviv's Shapira neighborhood wrote a letter decorated with hearts and flowers. "To Bibi Netanyahu, It is a shame that you are deporting children who are my friends just because of an identity card. It is a shame that we will say goodbye to our friends. You are making a big mistake in wanting to deport them because they were born here and this is their country. They belong to this place and we love them very much."
Steinitz and Yishai support deportation
The ministers charged with deciding on this loaded issue are Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, and Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman. The finance minister's office reported that the minister refuses to address the issue of foreign workers' children and that his general stance has not changed
"The number of foreign workers in the State of Israel is the highest relative to the rest of the countries in the world. The huge quantity of cheap labor affects the basic level of income, which is likely to rise if their numbers are limited. The question of legislation on the issue is important also in the issue of punishing employers of foreign workers. If we don't halt this phenomenon, it will become a threat to the Zionist enterprise," wrote Steinitz's office.
The interior minister's office responded, "Minister Yishai believes it is correct to take action to implement the cabinet's decision to decrease the number of foreign workers. According to Minister Yishai, proposals should be submitted that will deal firmly with employers who employ illegal workers. In addition, it is appropriate to promote steps that will make it harder for foreigners to exploit loopholes in the law."
In regards to the children of the foreign workers, the interior minister believes that the government should "act humanitarianly while preserving the objective the government of Israel has set for itself."
No response from the justice minister was received.
During the week, the prime minister is slated to meet with the three ministers as well as ministers in the social-economic cabinet in order to discuss the issue.