In 2006 and 2010, following demands from local and international civil society organizations, Israel granted civil status to approximately 1500 undocumented migrant workers’ children. This was considered a “one time humanitarian gesture,” not to be repeated. Thousands of other children, who did not fulfill the required criteria, were left without civil status. Within the context of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, this mixed-methods study explored how the children's life experiences have been constructed and reconstructed since the inception of their new civil status. According to the findings, 80 per cent of migrant workers’ children reveal a high degree of belonging to Israeli society, defining themselves as Israelis. For them, receiving civil status has four practical implications: being able to serve in the Israeli army; the ability to travel abroad; better access to the job market; and freedom from fear of deportation. Our study also revealed difficulties due to their religious and ethnic identities, reflected in the children's understandings of what it means to be Israeli. The complex manifestations of their newly acquired civil status is embedded in the concept of “freedom,” i.e. to do and to be what they really want to be.
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