Netanyahu: Knesset will pass new anti-migration law

Knesset c'tee advisor proposes open facilities to house migrants, who would be free to come and go as they please.

October 14, 2013 18:54
2 minute read.
Eritrean migrants protest Negev detention facility

Eritrean migrants protest Negev detention center 370. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)


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The Knesset will pass a new anti-migration law, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised in his speech to the Knesset Monday.

“We will prevent illegal infiltration into our land, which threatened our Jewish identity,” Netanyahu said at the Knesset winter session’s opening ceremony.

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The prime minister committed to helping residents of south Tel Aviv and Eilat, who he said cried to him because their neighborhoods were flooded with migrants.

According to Netanyahu, the combination of a border fence, economic laws, international dialogue and holding facilities reduced the number of migrants crossing into Israel.

In mid-September, the Supreme Court overturned the amendment to the Infiltration Law, which allowed Israel to hold those who enter the country illegally for up to three years in detention centers pending a review of their refugee status. The court ruled that the state must examine the asylum requests of each of the migrants kept in the Saharonim detention center within 90 days.

“If necessary, we will pass another law that works with the High Court ruling [to overturn an anti-migration law], and we will have sovereignty over our borders,” Netanyahu said.

On that note, Tomer Rosner, the legal adviser for the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee proposed that an open facility could be used to house illegal African migrants, allowing their basic needs to be met but without mandatory confinement, with the freedom to come and go as they please.

Speaking in a meeting about the migrant issue Monday, Rosner said they would not be kept under guard, but would not be legally able to work in Israel. Under the proposal, the state would also worsen the legal consequences for people illegally employing migrants.

The proposal was presented during a meeting of the group called by committee head MK Miri Regev (Likud) to examine ways to deal with the migrant issue.

Also during the meeting, attorney Avi Himi, the head of an interior ministry committee examining the migrants issue, said that the ministry has ruled that 99 percent of the hundreds of Eritrean migrants whose asylum requests they have examined are not refugees.

He added that regardless of the fact that they are not recognized as refugees, they are still afforded group protection and thus cannot be deported.

Meretz MK Michal Roisin called on the government to take steps to deal with the issue on the national level and, in her words, not to issue empty promises.

“Every government has told them [south Tel Aviv residents] that we’ll kick them [asylum seekers] out, well put them all on buses and take them to a third country or somewhere else. They keep telling them instead of telling them that this is a national problem that must be dealt with.”

Roisin added that the country could disperse the African migrant population around the country to lessen the burden on south Tel Aviv.

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