Someone recently forwarded me an article from the Anti-Racism Movement’s website, about a new, apparently unofficial, policy to stop renewing the residence permits for the children of migrant workers in Lebanon. Here’s a clip from the piece:
Since early this summer, the General Security had decided, without explanation or prior warning, with no new decision or decree, to no longer renew the residency permits of many migrant domestic workers who reside in Lebanon with their children, most of which have been born and raised here all their lives.
This clearly ‘internal’ decision has not been made public; yet we have already heard of at least fifty cases of migrant children whose ikama renewal has been significantly delayed and a few handful who have been officially rejected already. Some of these rejections, very sad to say, have come in the form of a notice of 72 hours max to leave the country.
These people have never had trouble with the law, or with the renewal of their papers in the past. They have always followed procedures as they should and they paid all their dues throughout the 10, 20, 30 years of their stay in Lebanon.
Some have been here for years, others for decades, others their whole lives.
I have not been able to find much more information about this issue, but have heard several anecdotes from friends and relatives suggesting that it is true. Many Lebanese feel that the country is already bursting at the seams with foreign nationals because of the refugee problem, but it needs to be understood that the many of these children have never lived anywhere else besides Lebanon.
I know a young girl (let’s call her Lina) who is currently in this situation. She was born to two migrant workers and grew up in Lebanon. Her father passed away a few years ago, and her mother works as a housekeeper. Lina has lived in Beirut for her whole life, visiting her mother’s home country only once. She attends a Lebanese parochial school, is one of the top students in her class, and speaks Arabic, English, and French like many other kids her age.
Lina’s annual residence permit will expire in two weeks. Her mother is terrified of going to the General Security office to get it renewed because she’s afraid that Lina will be given 72 hours to leave the country. At least, reasons her mother, two weeks will give Lina the chance to pack her things and say goodbye to her friends before she has to leave.
The saddest aspect of this story is that Lina’s mother will have to return to Lebanon after she takes her “home”, leaving her daughter behind in order to support her. A girl who lost her father a few years ago will now also lose her mother, being raised in a foreign “home” country by relatives she hardly knows.
I’d like to know if anyone else can confirm or deny that this policy is actually in effect, and what is being done about it. If you know of any immigration attorneys or authorities connected with General Security who might be able to shed light on the options available to children in Lina’s situation, please either leave a comment below or send me a note via the Contact page. Also, for any journalists who are interested in doing a story on this issue, please get in touch.
Update: A confirmation from Human Rights Watch.