New Delhi: Israeli authorities arrested a family of Indian nationals residing in Tel Aviv on Thursday as part of the Population Immigration and Border Authority’s crackdown on foreign workers who overstay their work visas. According to various media reports, Tina and Minin Lopez and their Israeli-born children – seven-year-old Eliana (7-years-old) and a one-year-old – were taken to the Beit Dagan detention facility in central Israel.
“Sources at the Indian mission said that the family was taken to the hospital for medical check-up and then presented in a court for hearing. The court decided that the family would be deported to India after completing documentation,” Outlook reported.
A PTI report claims that the family was released the same night and is likely to be deported soon after related formalities are completed. The couple reportedly came to Israel from Karnataka 12 years ago to work as caregivers.
The family’s attorney, David Tadmor, has termed the immigration authority’s action as “bullying”.
“This is a scandal. The Immigration Authority has not begun implementing the instructions of the Justice Ministry and the appellate court. It isn’t authorised at all to arrest children, and isn’t allowed to put out arrest warrants. We will contact the attorney general and demand that he immediately reins in the authority,” he told Haaretz.
The instructions Tadmor refers to relate to the Justice Ministry regulation which says that minors under the age of 12 should receive a hearing before a decision is made to deport them.
The arrests are part of a wider crackdown across Israel against migrant workers. On November 8, Times of Israel reported on protests by hundreds of parents and students against arrests and planned deportation of migrants. “The protesters rallied against the arrest of the Indian mother of a sixth-grade student at Gabrieli Carmel School, himself born in Israel; the arrest of a third-grade student at HaGalil School along with his Nigerian mother; and the arrest of an Indian couple and their Israeli-born daughters, aged one and seven,” the report said.
According to the same report, foreign women workers who become pregnant must send their children to their home country as a condition for visa renewal. However, the report claims that many fail to do so and stay in the country illegally, doing menial jobs to give their children a better life.
Of around 60,000 foreign caregivers in Israel, 10% are from India.