MK's Corner: Deporting Illegals

National Union Head, MK Yaakov -“Ketsele”- Katz, Chairman of the Knesset Committee for the Problem of Foreign Workers, brings the Zionist point of view on the current debate over deporting foreign workers and illegal immigrants.

Former MK Yaakov Katz

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The status of the children of the foreign workers who have swamped Israel's shores legally and illegally is only one aspect of a complex, growing problem exacerbated by the infiltration of fleeing refugees and illegal transients who find their way to our already beleagured country. This problem is reaching crisis proportions and therefore was the subject of a heated meeting last week at the Knesset Committee that was created to deal with the issue.

During the meeting, residents of southern Tel Aviv held a protest against the many foreign workers living in their neighborhoods. They complained about streets that have become dangerous to walk on at night, neighborhood schools that have large numbers of non-Jewish foreign worker’s children, jobs that have been lost. Meanwhile, left leaning NGO's
Those who wish the illegals to stay are the same people who supported the expelling of Gush Katif’s children from their homes
and the media are in the midst of an emotionally manipulative campaign to prevent the deportation of parents of children born in Israel. These are the same people who supported the expelling of Gush Katif’s children from their homes and who are the first to explain the need to give up Judea and Samaria so as to retain a Jewish majority within the State of Israel. The inherent contradiction escapes them.

The figures, however, speak for themselves. There are about 100,000 non residents  who entered Israel on tourist visas and simply did not leave when their visas expired. Since they entered the country legally as residents of another country, they can be put on the first available flight to their country of origin if and when they are caught. There are about 50,000 infiltrators from Jordan to Israel, but due to the relations between the two countries, Israel's Immigration Authority does not return them to Jordan. Another large group consists of the agricultural and caretaking workers from Thailand and the Philippines. Those who remain after the authorized period to find employment, are dealt with in the same way the Immigration Police deals with others whose visas are expired.

The biggest problem is the Sudanese and Eritrean refugees who come through the Sinai Desert, cross the Egyptian border with ease and whose presence is felt in southern cities such as Eilat, Arad and slowly but surely, Tel Aviv.The Army reports that another million Sudanese are awaiting the opportunity to be smuggled over the border by Bedouin and Egyptian traffickers, who earn a hefty fee for doing so. Several thousand already make
The Army reports that another million Sudanese are awaiting the opportunity to be smuggled over the border by Bedouin and Egyptian traffickers.
their way in every month. Eilat's Sudanese population stands at 7% and if this continues, Israelis will begin to leave the city as its character changes. The Sudanese have already built churches and monasteries to serve their needs. The mayor of Eilat claims that the situation is fast becoming intolerable.

Since the Sudanese and Eritreans are considered "refugees", international law forbids their deportation. In contrast to illegals with visas, there is no place to which they can be returned and they cannot be put over the border to the Sinai Desert. Banishing them would lead to complex legal issues and world condemnation. Tiny Israel cannot absorb the problems of Africa. There are many other countries who could and some of them are the first to champion the rights of –faraway—refugees.

A comprehensive plan, the only way to prevent the situation from getting worse, was authorized during former Prime Minister Olmert's period in office.  It consists of constructing a booby trapped barrier along the entire border with Egypt and placing armed scouts along it who would have authorization to shoot, if necessary, as a deterrent to attempting the crossing. The IDF feels sure that 95% of the infiltration attempts can be prevented this way without bloodshed. At present, however, the Bedouins in the area do as they please and the refugees bank on proverbial Israeli compassion.

Both left and right wing members of the Knesset Committee agreed to the above proposal because this is an existential problem for the State of Israel which might find itself flooded with Sudanese refugees in the coming years. A government office must be established forthwith to expedite the building of this border fence.

As far as the children of foreign workers are concerned, those who were not born here must be returned to their countries of origin. Those who were born here could be issued permits to stay for another two years so that their parents have time to arrange their return home. Alternatively, they could be offered funds to facilitate their immediate return to their ethnic homeland. They are a small part of the problem, but since they photograph well and tug at people’s emotions, they are being used cynically by those whose interest lies in presenting Israeli authorities as cruel and unfeeling. Naïve and well meaning people who are exposed to the one sided publicity do not know all the aspects of the situation and join the campaign, as is sometimes the case with other issues.                                             
We who see Israel as the land of the Jewish People must act.

Behind the battle to keep foreign workers and their children here are left wing groups who wish to turn Israel into a “land of all its citizens”, that is, not specifically  a Jewish homeland.  The high fertility rate of National Religious and Haredi families has galvanized them into action.   We who see Israel as the land of the Jewish People must act as well. This does not in any way negate the natural, humanitarian values of our people, but is simply a way to ensure that this country, earned with blood and tears, continues to be what it was created to be.