Stories

Jerusalem Court Cancels Expulsion Order of Severely Autistic Child

27 September 2012 By Ruby Ong

27 September 2012

The Jerusalem District Court has overturned a decision by Interior Minister Eli Yishai to expel Israeli-born four-year old Mark Solar and his Filipino mother Bernadette. The presiding Judge, Dr. Yigal Marzel, ruled that Mark and his mother could not be expelled because he suffers from severe autism and requires medical treatment in Israel, and that the decision to expel the Solars did "not take into account the importance of the child's welfare."

Bernadette Solar came to Israel in 2006 on a legal visa to work as a caregiver to an elderly woman. Mark was born the following year. In 2009, after the woman Bernadette was caring for died, she applied to extend her work visa on humanitarian grounds. Mark had been diagnosed with autism and needed the more advanced medical care available in Israel. Returning to the Philippines, Solar claimed, would cause enormous damage to his health. Mark, who is nearly five, is still only capable of speaking a few isolated words and is subject to unpredictable outbursts of crying and laughing.

In March 2012, Bernadette was informed that her application for a work visa had been rejected. She and Mark were arrested and facing deportation when the NIF family of organizations took up the Solars' cause. NIF grantees Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Hotline for Migrant Workersand Israeli Children lobbied for their release. The Solars also received assistance from the Israel Bar Association and the pro-bono services of attorney Zari Hazan, who represented them in court. After the ruling earlier this week Bernadette said, "I've been crying so much over the past week because I feared the court would order our expulsion and now I'm so happy. I explained the situation to Mark but he is not able to understand the significance."

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