"Children of the Nation?": on the belongingness of children of non-Jewish deportable migrant families from Latin America in Israel
Barak Kalir (University of Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
Children of non-Jewish deportable migrants in Israel straddle between the risk of deportation by the state and the promise of "adoption" by the nation. The family - as biological kinship or metaphor for the nation - becomes a key notion in evaluating the belongingness of illegalized migrants.
Paper long abstract:
Since the 1990s non-Jewish migrants from Latin America reached Israel in search of work and subsequently began settling down. Founded as a Jewish state, Israel operates with an ethno-religious criterion for defining legal and cultural belongingness. Basically, while Jews are welcome to migrate to Israel and become instantly citizens, non-Jews are categorically rejected as potential members in the state. The only way for non-Jews to be included is by having a Jewish spouse and "marrying into" the nation. Most settled Latinos in Israel either formed or brought over their non-Jewish families. When Israel implemented massive deportation campaigns, Latino children assumed a particular role. First, they served, inadvertently, as "deportation shields" as state authorities mostly refrained from arresting parents (especially mothers) with children. Second, when pressure amounted on the Israeli state to recognize the status of settled non-Jewish migrants, a special government decision regularized children who were considered "culturally assimilated" to the nation. Many Latino children who spoke fluent Hebrew and went to Israeli schools were rewarded a legal status and by extension their families as well. The paper interrogates the way an apparent hermetic nationalistic definition of belongingness to the nation as a (Jewish) family becomes feeble when de facto integration is proven possible and even easy for non-Jewish families.
Settling in hostile environments: the effects of deportability on migrants and their families