In its weekly meeting on Sunday, the government approved a bill that would stiffen punishment for transporting illegal migrants into Israel. The government hopes that the proposed law will help stem the flow of infiltrators who have been entering Israel from Judea, Samaria and Egypt and elsewhere.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz held a news conference Sunday in which they presented the government's plan for reducing the number of foreign laborers on Israel. “Israel now has a different, aggressive and clear immigration policy,” Netanyahu declared.
The new law would apply to the employers, transporters and providers of sleeping facilities for the infiltrators. Transporting an illegal worker would be punishable by three years in jail instead of the current maximum sentence of two years, and the organization of a smuggling network, an offense that does not yet exist on the books– would be punishable by five years in jail.
A terror danger, too
Recently, Israel has seen a flourishing of organized networks for smuggling illegal immigrants into the country. Due to the progress in construction of the separation fence between between Judea and Samaria and the rest of Israel, as well as the higher cost of travel due to rising gasoline prices, illegal Arab immigrants tend to stay in Israel for longer periods of time.
The illegals are also attractive targets for recruitment by terrorists because the Arabs of Judea and Samaria are familiar with Israel and the roads leading to it and are able to blend in with the rest of the populace, a government statement noted.
The reform includes increasing the minimum salaries which employers must pay foreign laborers in order to prevent their exploitation. This will make it less attractive to employ them as their wages will be similar to the minimum pay for Israelis.
Once caught, an illegal foreign laborer will have to exit Israel for a cooling off period before he can return legally. Work permits will be limited to specific occupations, and a laborer will not be allowed to stay in Israel if he changes his employment to a field different from that for which he received the permit.