The government is considering establishing work camps in the south of the country, where illegal migrant workers will receive shelter, food and medical care, Army Radio reported Wednesday. In exchange, illegal migrants would perform manual labor outside the camps, but would not earn a salary.
They would stay at the camp until their asylum claims are decided, which could take months or years.
The proposal, part of the effort to address the problems posed by illegal migrants, would place asylum seekers at jobs in communities in the Negev and Arava. Their salaries would go to the state, in order to fund the camps.
The issue of illegal foreign migrants and refugees has made the headlines due to the efforts by human rights organizations to block the deportation of 1,200 foreign workers’ children. One of the main arguments by deportation advocates, including Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas), is that allowing them to stay would bring hundreds of thousands more illegal migrants.
They would bring in “a range of diseases such as hepatitis, measles, tuberculosis and AIDS [as well as] drugs,” said Yishai.
“I fear how far we have fallen,” said MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) in reaction to the work camp proposal, adding that he thinks the plan would encourage many more asylum seekers to try to enter Israel.
“The plan [would] induce refugees to come to Israel. A bed is an incentive compared to where they come from. Israel has the right to close its borders, but when someone comes here, you cannot fight with him. This shows that we haven’t learned a thing, as people living in a country established by refugees for refugees,” Khenin added. [continued…]
Israel started recruiting workers from East Asia 20 years ago, after the first intifadeh ended the flood of day laborers from the West Bank and Gaza. The migrants support entire families back in their home countries. Noa Kaufman of the Israeli Children pressure group, says Israel encourages deporting workers after five years or when they have children. But then those departing workers are simply replaced by new arrivals who go through the same turmoil. “The recruitment companies only get money for new workers. If a worker moves jobs once he’s here, the recruitment company doesn’t get any money,” she says. “It doesn’t make sense that there is no naturalization process for someone who was born here or someone who lived here as a refugee for 10 years. They are people, not machines. You can’t expect them not to fall in love, not to give birth.” [continued…]