Illegal workers to be ‘cleaned out’

Authorities plan comprehensive crackdown in the weeks leading up to Pessah.

If you happen to see men hiding in the bushes and watching you go about your pre-Pessah chores, don’t be too alarmed; they may simply be Interior Ministry officials looking to see if you have illegal workers helping you out.
The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA), announced Wednesday that, starting Sunday, it would be embarking on a comprehensive crackdown of employers of illegal workers in the weeks leading up to Pessah.
The campaign, titled “Clean and Tidy” will see inspectors from the Oz unit and officials from the special unit on foreign workers in the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry apprehending migrant workers employed in unauthorized jobs and prosecuting their employers.
“The goal of the operation is to increase public awareness of the total prohibition on employing foreign citizens without the appropriate permits,” said PIBA director general Amnon Ben-Ami. “To my regret, in all sectors of the population, people don’t know that even assistance in housecleaning or childcare may result in dire consequences, including steep fines and opening of criminal files.”
Yehuda Ben-Ezra, the head of the Oz unit, explained that all of its 200 inspectors will be deployed across the country starting Sunday to gather intelligence on households suspected of employing unauthorized workers and following up by arresting the illegal workers and, with the aid of the officials from the Industry Trade and Labor Ministry, taking legal action against the offending employers.
“The law enables fines of between NIS 10,000-NIS 100,000 for people employing illegal workers,” said Ben-Ezra, pointing out that foreign workers are only permitted to work in agriculture, construction, elder care and ethnic restaurants.
Even if a laborer has a permit to work in Israel, it is illegal to hire him or her to work in other jobs, such as housecleaning.
The workers apprehended will face a hearing and possible deportation.
Ben Ezra said that the campaign was timed for a time of year when many people seek help with cleaning, painting and generally sprucing up their homes.
“We hope that given this warning, people will not employ foreign workers and perhaps consider hiring Israelis for the jobs, so that they, too, can have a dignified Pessah Seder,” said Ben-Ezra.
The crackdown is accompanied by a media campaign warning people of the illegality of employing foreign workers in any other than the permitted fields.
Not everyone is pleased by the campaign
“The state authorities are of course entitled to enforce the law; whatwe oppose is the disgraceful language that accompanies these sorts ofoperations,” said attorney Oded Feller, who works with the Associationof Civil Rights in Israel. “Human beings are not dirt.”
Feller said names like “Clean and Tidy” incite hatred of foreigners,and added that it is shameful the government chooses such titles forits operations.
There are roughly 125,000 illegal foreign workers in Israel.