Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered thousands of asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan to leave his country within three months or face imprisonment.
This month, Israel’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority began preparing to deport the asylum seekers on the orders of Netanyahu, Interior Minister Arye Dery and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan.
The deportation initiative was scheduled for a vote by the cabinet but was postponed due to a budgetary dispute between the Treasury and the Public Security Ministry, according to Haaretz.
The deportation effort will be implemented in stages.
“In the first stage, certain groups will be exempted from deportation: children, adults over 60, parents of minor children who rely on them for support, those with serious medical or mental health problems and victims of human trafficking and slavery,” Haaretz reported.
Such individuals will be exempt from being sent to the Holot detention facility in the Negev.
Those who have applied for refugee status but have not received a decision will be allowed to stay in Israel temporarily.
The next time thousands of other African migrants who entered Israel illegally go to Interior Ministry offices to renew their residency permits, they will be notified that they must leave the country within three months. If they do not leave, they will face indefinite imprisonment.
According to Haaretz, “[t]here are an estimated 27,000 citizens of Eritrea living in Israel, as well as 7,500 Sudanese nationals and 2,500 people from other African nations. Some 5,000 children have been born to African asylum seekers in Israel.”
Netanyahu has told Interior Ministry officials he expects many of the migrants to leave Israel shortly.
The Interior Ministry has estimated that the deportation initiative will cost approximately $86 million annually.
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