Israel has begun the deportation of illegal immigrant workers who came from South Sudan. More are to be repatriated to their nation of origin in the days to come.
The illegal immigrants come from some of the poorest, and most violent areas of Africa, Sudan, Eritrea, and South Sudan. The problem has been that they had entered the nation of Israel illegally across the border with Egypt. Today CNN, Voice of America and Haaretz report that the deportation of South Sudanese back to their nation of origin has begun.
The problem has been brewing for quite some time, and now, with more than 59,000 immigrants including those from Eritrea, and Sudan, who have entered the nation of Israel, the exodus, both forced and voluntary is begun.
A plane carrying 120 illegal immigrants will be the first to leave Israel. South Sudan is a nation with which Israel has diplomatic communications and is considered a 'friendly state'.
Prime Minister Netanyahu stated:
"Today, the government will begin the operation to repatriate illegal work infiltrators to their countries of origin,"..."We will do this is an orderly and dignified manner."
Both Sudan and Eritrea are considered 'enemy states' and the repatriation of the 'infiltrators' from those countries are a much more complex problem. The illegal immigrant workers from Eritrea and Sudan, due to the enemy state designation are considered de-facto refugees as noted by William Tall of the UN: "Anyone from Sudan, because of the ‘enemy state’ relationship, is considered a de-facto refugee, also from Eritrea; the government recognizes that it can’t send anyone back because of their risk of persecution there,"
The Jerusalem's District Court ruled on June 7, of this year that the deportation of South Sudanese could be accomplished within the framework of the Israeli legal structure.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai stated: "We are sending the infiltrators, migrants, back to their homes like all countries in the West, in Europe, in the USA act when dealing with migrants,"
The court ruling in favor of deportation noted that the illegal immigrants status as economic refugees was not a protected status. "The international law does not oblige giving migrants shelter for socioeconomic reasons, unless the socio-economic situation in the receiving state is so bad it would endanger the asylum seeker's life, or could be described as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," the opinion says.
The ruling from the court has prompted the government to also seek further strengthening of the penalties against Israeli's who are found guilty of "employing, harboring or transporting migrants or Palestinians illegally residing in Israel"
Increasing the jail term from two years, to a maximum of five years and a maximum fine of NIS 5 million on each person found guilty of harboring, employing, or transporting migrants.
The ruling last week prompted protest marches by African migrants, NGO's and Israeli's in Tel Aviv.
Signs decrying - "We aren't infiltrators, we are refugees." were a common theme in the marches.
Prime Minister Netanyahu in remarks made today noted that a fence along the southern border will be finished "in the coming months." Netanyahu also mentioned in his remarks the building of detainment facilities large enough to hold tens of thousands of illegal border infiltrators, with all who are caught being immediately detained.
Netanyahu also stated: "We have a Jewish tradition of treating strangers humanely," he said, "And even when we need to deport them from our midst due to the state's desire to control its borders, we must do so humanely and in a manner that finds expression in a restrained and humane manner."