Hundreds protest Israel's deportation of illegal immigrants

Demonstrators gather near detention facility outside of Tel Aviv to protest planned deportation of foreign workers who overstayed visas

Marcy Oster, JTA ,

Demonstrators protest against detention of Filipino workers and their children
Demonstrators protest against detention of Filipino workers and their children
Avshalom Shoshoni/Flash90

Hundreds of students, their teachers and parents protested outside a detention facility near Tel Aviv where two Israeli-born children of Filipina workers illegally residing in Israel after overstaying their work visas are being held ahead of deportation to the Philippines.

The children are being detained by the Population and Immigration Authority, the Kan public broadcaster reported, as part of a crackdown on illegal immigrants who entered Israel legally, but overstayed their visas.

Gena Antigo, 13, was detained as she headed out to the Herzliya Hebrew Gymnasium School in Tel Aviv. Ralph Harel, 10, also is being held. The children are being held with their mothers, Haaretz reported.

They were taken into custody despite an understanding with the Interior Ministry that immigration authorities would not target children at or on their way to or from school.

Hearings have not been held for the children and their mothers.

A Tel Aviv District Court judge ordered an appeals court to make a decision by Sunday on their continued detention.

“We’ve been walking to school together for years, go to each other’s’ houses, we’re like sisters,” Gena’s best friend Sivan told Haaretz. “I’m scared she won’t be here with me anymore. I don’t know why they want to deport her, she’s a wonderful girl. I’m going to demonstrate with all my friends so they release her.”