Sudanese atBorder 248.88.
(photo credit: Channel 10 [file])
Following a series of delays, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday ordered that a plan to replace the Immigration Police with the civilian-run Immigration Authority be implemented in the near future.
Under the plan, the Interior Ministry will assume control of the Immigration Authority, which was created in 2003 and is headed by former Israel Prisons Service chief Ya'acov Ganot. Until now, the authority has been relatively inactive.
Police will continue to play a role in monitoring illegal immigrants, in the form of investigations and intelligence gathering, but officers will no longer be charged with conducting raids and making arrests.
Civilian employees of the authority will be given the authority to make arrests under the new arrangement.
The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry's division that regulates the conditions and contracts of foreign workers will also be subordinate to the Immigration Authority.
The date for the handover of jurisdiction from police to the authority has yet to be determined.
"It took time, maybe too much time," a police source said, referring to the delay in implementing the plan. "The Immigration Police was set up in 2002, but the Immigration Authority was always supposed to be its civilian replacement. This is how immigration is regulated in all democratic countries."
One of the causes of the delay is a failure to define all of the functions the Immigration Authority will fulfill.
"We don't yet know whether the authority will be in charge of border crossings or whether that will remain under Israel Police command," the source said.
Officers who leave the Immigration Police will be reassigned to high-profile operational police units, such as the anti-organized crime Lahav 433 Unit and various district's central units.
The Immigration Police has some 380 officers.