Israeli Immigration Policy Center submits petition calling on the High Court to uphold a 2012 amendment to the infiltration law, which states that the authorities can hold illegal migrants for up to three years • Human rights groups ask court to rescind law.
State Prosecutor Yochi Gensin said that the state would file a request with the High Court of Justice on Sunday allowing the deportation of thousands of illegal Eritrean migrants in Israel to a third-party country.
Gensin announced the state’s plans as the High Court deliberated a petition against a request to cancel an amendment to the Infiltration Prevention Law, which the Israeli Immigration Policy Center submitted, together with the South Tel Aviv Action Committee.
The state prosecutor said that only a handful of the Eritrean migrants residing in Israel — 36,000 people according to the state — could be legally defined as refugees, adding that the rest would have to be deported to a third country with which Israel has signed an agreement.
The High Court was debating a petition filed by a number of human rights organizations, which called on the court to rescind an amendment to the law that the Knesset approved in January 2012 stating that the authorities may detain non-citizens who illegally cross into Israel for up to three years.
The state was upholding the constitutionality of the amendment.
Attorney Yonatan Berman — representing the Hotline for Migrant Workers Israel — said that the constitutionality of the law was not contingent on whether a third-party nation had agreed to accept illegal Eritrean migrants. Berman added that while the law had sought to deter refugees from seeking out Israel for residence, the High Court had ruled that deterrence could not be a legal argument for detention.
Authors of the petition calling on the court to uphold the amendment have claimed that the law decisively addresses the issue of illegal migration to Israel, in numbers the groups called unprecedented. The organizations said that the amendment prevented illegal migrants from freely crossing Israeli borders, thereby negating the main driving forces behind infiltration to Israel — economic opportunity and employment.
According to the petition, canceling the law would severely limit the state’s ability to defend its sovereignty and its citizens, and would open Israel’s doors to massive waves of illegal migration.
The Israel Immigration Policy Center and the South Tel Aviv Action Committee responded to the request to cancel the amendment through the GKH Law Offices.
The request to cancel the law was filed by The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, along with the Hotline for Migrant Workers Israel, the Clinic for Migrants’ Rights and the Refugee Rights Clinic.