Cabinet to vote on plan to reduce number of illegal foreign

The plan, proposed by an inter-ministerial committee, focuses on penalizing employers and limiting entrance permits.

The cabinet on Sunday began debating a comprehensive plan to reduce thenumber of illegal foreign workers in the country.The plan, proposed by an inter-ministerial committee, focuses onpenalizing employers and limiting entrance permits.
Human rights groupsclaim the plan harms the rights of migrants and their families.Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz presented the new plan to the cabinetin Sunday's weekly meeting, but due to time constraints, was unable tobring it to a vote and was forced to postpone a vote until next week.
The plan, drawn up by representatives of theMinistries of Finance, Interior and Justice, as well as representativesof the Prime Minister's Office and the Bank of Israel, authorizes theenforcement of criminal charges and a minimum fine of NIS 10,000, onanyone found to be employing an illegal worker.
Companies employingillegal workers face fines of NIS 25,000 per worker. Those found guiltywill also be barred from receiving permits for legal foreign workers.The new plan also changes taxation policies for those employing illegalforeign workers.
Starting with the 2010 tax assessments, the TaxAuthority will not recognize wage expenses paid to illegal foreignworkers. Those found employing illegal workers will be subject to a taxaudit.Part of the plan attempts to reduce the incentive of bringing newforeign workers into the country.
The common practice is that foreignnationals interested in working in Israel, must pay a high commissionrate to employment agencies that have work permits for migrant workers.The plan proposes to penalize firms who charge exorbitant fees fromtheir workers; it increases incarceration times for those found guiltyfrom six months to three years.Another measure the new plan takes is to forceagencies that import workers for jobs in thecaregivers sector to pay the workers for a full year's employment.
Thisis meant to encourage them to keep the workers on longer and not rushto import a new worker from abroad. For the same purpose, a database ofpermitted, but unemployed caregivers will be established. Until now,foreign workers who lost their job because of the death of theiremployers were at risk of losing their status.
The companies, eager toimport new workers, were not compelled to first seek existing ones andthe result became termed the "revolving door."The plan also puts limits on the type of work a foreign worker canconduct. Every migrant worker who enters Israel will be designated to aspecific sector, which will appear on his or her entrance permit andwill be forbidden from crossing over to other sectors.
Those who arefound not to be working in their designated sector for more than 90days will be deported.Another measure that the new plan proposes is to forbid illegal aliensfrom applying for work permits while in the country. According to thenew plan, those who were found to be working illegally will be forcedto leave the country and will only be considered for a new permit aftera "freeze" period.
According to the committee's report, there are currently more than125,000 illegal migrant workers in Israel. "The government's policieson foreign workers are part of its guidelines, established in itsformation because of the negative influences foreign workers have onthe state," it read.
The new plan does not address the fate of the 1,200 children of illegalforeign workers, who were set to be deported, along with their familiesin November, but were given permission to stay until the end of theschool year.
Human Rights groups reacted harshly to some ofthe plan's suggestions, claiming the measures forcing a worker to leavethe country before filing a request for a new permit would harm theworker's families, leaving them without their family member.
Aspokesman for the Migrant Workers Hotline also criticized therequirement that the workers to be employed according to specificsectors, arguing that it unfairly binds the worker to an employee,something that has been prohibited by the High Court. The MigrantWorkers Hotline, along with Physicians For Human Rights and Kav La'oved(The Workers' Hotline), have called on Prime Minister BinyaminNetanyahu to call off the plan.