The Law and Education Policy Clinic at the University of Haifa has pleaded with Israel's national carrier El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. to stop transporting forcibly deported children born in Israel to migrant workers. The letter, sent Monday to El Al by Haran Reichman, who heads the clinic, stated that “El Al’s decision to take part in the deportation” makes it an active party in an act that may contribute to the potential harm that may incur the children who are being severed from their known environment.
El Al chose not to respond to Calcalist’s request for comment.
Since July, Israel has arrested dozens of migrant workers whose visas were not renewed along with their children who were born and raised in the country. Israeli law stipulates that in order to have their visas renewed, migrant workers who give birth are required to send the child to their homelands before returning to work in Israel alone. Many opt to keep the child with them, effectively remaining in the country with no legal status.
Reichman’s letter, which was also sent to officials at Israel's Administration of Border Crossings, Population, and Immigration, came following a plea from children facing deportation and their families to examine the legal implications El Al may face due to its part in the process.
Attached to the letter were professional opinions by psychiatry and psychology experts outlining the “emotional and psychosocial ramifications” deportation may have on these children.
According to the letter, the experts found substantial emotional damage constituting a real danger to the children’s wellbeing, “due to the process of their arrest and incarceration, the act of deportation in and of itself, and their severance from their familiar surroundings.”
In response to Calcalist’s request for comment, a spokesperson for the Administration of Border Crossings, Population, and Immigration said that the presented professional opinions are applicable to any family with children that “decides to relocate to another country.” The spokesperson further said the administration expects “professionals in any field to condemn mothers who put their children in such situations where they are staying in a country without legal status.”
Reichman’s letter stated that upon reading the experts’ opinions, the clinic’s staff felt it was its duty to inform El Al of the implications so it could “take them into account when considering whether the company and its pilots should take part in the potentially harmful deportation process.”
Last week, a group of over 30 top Israeli tech and industry leaders, including billionaire businessman Morris Kahn and tech investor Yossi Vardi, appealed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
asking him to stop the deportation of these families.