JERUSALEM (IPS) - After Israel attempted to deport the first migrant workers’ child educated in its school system, human rights groups are calling on the Israeli government to develop a clear immigration policy and an official protocol that will minimize the psychological impact of detaining and deporting young children.
“We ask the government to show humanity and compassion to these children and to their families and to try to work out a policy which will not on one hand deport the children and at the same time bring [new] people into Israel again and deprive them of their right to raise a family,” Moriel Matalon, chairman of the Israel branch of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.
In addition to the negative effects of this “revolving door” immigration policy, Matalon said that putting the children of migrant workers in jail prior to deportation is a clear violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Israel is a signatory.
“It’s unjustified to put the children with their parents in jail or in prison, even for a temporary period of time. This can have a tremendous adverse effect on the raising up of the child,” Matalon said. “These children have committed no crime whatsoever. There’s no reason they should spend any time in jail.”
In July 2009, the Israeli government announced its intention to deport 1,200 children of undocumented migrant workers. After a great deal of criticism, an inter-ministerial committee finally approved the deportation of 400 children in August last year, while the remaining 800 were told they could apply for permanent status in Israel if they met certain requirements. more