Rosemarie Perez and her 13-year-old son Rohan, born in Israel, repatriated after a brief legal battle. The boy has never seen the Philippines. A similar situation to hundreds of other immigrant workers and which worries the Church. Bishop Marcuzzo: a "very serious" problem, the result of "extreme right" policies to reduce the non-Jewish population.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The legal battle of a migrant worker of Philippine origin and her 13-year-old son, born in Israel, ended overnight with a negative outcome, forced to leave the country following the expiry of the residence permit. The Supreme Court, after a first - and provisional - suspension of the provision, gave the green light to the process that led to the expulsion of Rosemarie Perez and her 13-year-old son Rohan. Both were forcibly loaded on a direct flight to Bangkok, Thailand, to then take the connection towards Manila. Towards a land that the boy has never seen and that he does not consider his own.
Local sources report that Rosemarie and her son Rohan (pictured) were boarded on a plane, accompanied by a security guard. An extra precaution adopted by the Israeli authorities, after the woman had promoted a protest on board the aircraft (headed for Hong Kong) the day before and that led the managers of the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion international airport to take her off the plane, keeping them in a hall of the airport.
Last week, immigration officials had ordered their arrest because the mother's residence permit had expired long ago. Sabine Haddad, spokeswoman for the immigration authority, specifies that "she lived for 10 years [out of 20 in total in Israel, ed] illegaly".
Speaking to AsiaNews, Msgr. Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, auxiliary bishop and patriarchal vicar of Jerusalem, speaks of a "very serious" which the Church regards "with concern". It is not "acceptable", he adds, that these people "are thrown out and it is essential to change the law" that permits expulsions. These people, he continues, "constitute no danger to security and many people, including the Israelis themselves, are against it. But the voice of the strongest commands and the policies of this right prevail" as part of a more general scheme which aims to "reduce the non-Jewish population. This is why we foreign priests and religious do not represent a danger, because we do not have children" as opposed to "immigrant, albeit peaceful" families.
That of the Filipino family is the first forced repatriation - in the context of a series of arrests that led to the arrest of a hundred foreign workers - which also involves a young man of school age, also born in Israel and who speaks only Hebrew. The boy studies at the Bialik Rogozin School in Tel Aviv and should have started the eighth year shortly.
Rosemarie Perez had arrived from the Philippines in 2000 and worked as a caregiver. Seven years later the employer's death and the choice to stay - illegally - in the Middle East, carrying out various jobs. Behind the choice, the fact that in the Philippines she had no family waiting for her; the child's father, a Turkish citizen, had chosen to return to his country of origin by abandoning them.
The Israeli Immigration and Population Authority, part of the Interior Ministries, intends to continue the campaign of arrests and expulsions, which primarily involves the Filipino migrant community. For family lawyers it is "unacceptable" to hunt down a boy born and raised in the area and whose mother has been living and working in the country for 20 years.
The choice was also strongly criticized also by the leaders of the local Catholic Church, who express "great concern" about the expulsion policies implemented by the government, stressing that "it is impossible to ignore the particular circumstances of these women and children, born in Israel". In the document, signed among others by the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Msgr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Greek-Melkite Archbishop Yousef Matta and the Haifa Maronite bishop Moussa el-Hage, remembers that the same Israeli society "needs" them. These people give "essential" assistance in "difficult conditions" with elderly, chronically ill or for cleaning homes and buildings. The Christian leaders ask is it not possible to provide that these children "can continue to live in this land where they were born?"
Two siblings from Tel Aviv are also among those at risk of expulsion. They are called Sivan Noel and Michal, aged 11 and 9, who have never set foot in their parents' country of origin. "I was born here" in Israel, says Sivan "and it is unfair that after being born there, having a family, friends, school and studies, they tell us ... you have to go to a place we barely know". At the time, their mother did not want to separate from her newborn children, preferring to keep them with her even if it was illegal.
According to the law, in fact, a pregnant foreign migrant worker must send her child to the country of origin once born, as a condition for obtaining a visa renewal. However, many mothers refuse to do so and live in conditions of illegality, often doing menial jobs and in conditions of semi-exploitation. To date in Israel there are at least 60 thousand foreign carers, most of them women, half of them coming from the Philippines, followed by Nepal (15%), India, Sri Lanka and Moldavia (about 10% each). The remaining percentage hail from Eastern Europe.