Social and Economic Justice

Children of Migrant Families to Receive Legal Status in Israel

27 February 2014 By New Israel Fund

Following a long struggle by NIF grantees the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and Israeli Children, the Minister of Interior announced that 221 children of migrant workers will receive legal status to stay in Israel. Aged 8-23, most of these children were born in Israel and they all study or studied in the Israeli educational system.

In August 2010, the government decided to grant legal status to migrant children who met the following conditions: their parents entered the country legally; they were educated in Israeli schools; they had been in the country for at least five consecutive years; and they spoke Hebrew.

Following this decision, the Interior Ministry received 700 applications for residency permits. The ministry approved around 350 requests and turned down about 100. The rest were left in limbo. When a family's request for legal status was rejected, the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and Israeli Children appealed the decision. "In my decision I took into account the major delay in dealing with the applications of the children who have grown up here and are, in fact, Israeli," said Minister Saar.

Rotem Ilan of Israeli Children said: "Ever since the government's 2010 decision, these children have lived in continuous uncertainty and trepidation. Now, after a four year struggle, they are finally legal residents in the country they were born into, which has become their only home."

Galit Torpor, aged 20, whose parents came from Ghana and who will receive residency as a result of the decision, said: "I'm really glad that this struggle is over. I go around smiling! For children like me, aged 16 and above, this can be really significant. We need an identity card to do many things in our lives and when we don't have it, it's very frustrating."

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and Israeli Children will now begin the process of helping the families obtain all the documents the Ministry of Interior requires in order to grant legal status.