African migrants walk in front of the entrance to Holot open detention center in the Negev .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Responding to comments Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made from the US, a pro-migrant group said on Wednesday it hoped the state would view the recent High Court of Justice decision striking down its policy on illegal immigrants as a chance to construct a better policy.
Pushing on the other end of the spectrum, south Tel Aviv residents on Monday night filed police complaints against migrants, saying that even after the court’s decision, infiltrators could be sent to prison for extended sentences.
The High Court last week struck down the state and Netanyahu’s policy of holding some illegal migrants in closed detention for one year and others in indefinite open detention.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu had said that most migrants came to Israel not out of persecution, but for economic reasons and were looking for work.
He said Israel could not be a landing pad for all migrant workers from other countries, but also that he would respect the High Court’s decision.
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar said, however, that the Knesset should pass legislation to circumvent the court and limit its authority over migrant policy.
A spokeswoman for the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants said on Wednesday that she expected the prime minister to respect the court as well as “the spirit of the decision,” which she said dictated giving a much more integrationist policy “a real chance” to “help all of the communities in Tel Aviv, both migrants and residents of the [city’s] south.”
She did not wish to speculate on whether Netanyahu’s and Sa’ar’s differing public statements would reflect different perspectives going forward.
The spokeswoman noted that there is ongoing confusion about whether the Interior Ministry’s Population and Borders Immigration Authority will respect the court’s decision, with reports that the higher levels of PIBA have ordered a freeze in new summons to migrants to the detention centers, and lower level PIBA officials proceeding with some summons.
She did add that it appeared that there would likely not be new summons issued since the court’s ruling, but that summons issued before the ruling were still in question – despite the court having invalidated the use of the detention centers.
On the other end, south Tel Aviv residents said that even after the court’s ruling, illegal migrants could be arrested by police and courts could imprison them for up to five years under other still valid laws.
A group of residents gathered dozens of migrants’ names and provided them to police.
Explaining the tactic of turning to the police, local Shefi Paz said, “The High Court caused south Tel Aviv residents and the State of Israel to lose faith.”
Repeated discussions with police spokespeople had not yielded any updates on the complaints by press time.