Israel begins repatriating South Sudanese migrants


A planeload of 120 illegal migrants was scheduled to leave Israel for repatriation in South Sudan.

The migrants reportedly began boarding buses Sunday afternoon headed for Ben Gurion Airport for a flight that evening.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the repatriation “orderly and dignified.”

“We have a Jewish tradition of treating strangers humanely, 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,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said that a second plane bound for South Sudan would leave next week.

He added that as of last week, infiltrators are placed in detention and can be detained for years. New detention facilities are being built, he said.

The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority said at the end of last week that it would extend the one-week deadline for illegal migrants from South Sudan to voluntarily leave the country, receiving a cash grant and a flight home in exchange.

Meanwhile, a firebomb was thrown Saturday night at a bar in south Tel Aviv’s Hatikvah neighborhood where migrants from Eritrea gather. One man was wounded.

Firebombs were thrown last month in two separate incidents at apartments in which several African migrants lived.

Israel’s Yishai determined to deport Africans


Israel’s interior minister, Eli Yishai, promised to deport the tens of thousands of Africans who have crossed into his country illegally in recent years.

“I will safeguard the Jewish majority and the state, and I ensure that the last of the Sudanese, and the Eritreans, and all of the infiltrators, to the last of them, will return to their countries,” Yishai, of the Shas party, told Army Radio. “I have pity on the people of Israel.”

Upheaval in neighboring Egypt has stirred concern in Israel over a surge in border jumping by Sudanese and Eritrean migrants, who make their way across the Sinai with the help of smugglers.

Approximately 40,000 of the Africans are now in Israel, most of them allowed to settle and work in major cities, though authorities generally grant them neither refugee status nor formal refugee status.

The influx has worried some Israelis about a potential demographic threat, while others have argued that the migrants should be taken in on humanitarian grounds.

The Interior Ministry, which says most of the Africans come to Israel for work rather than asylum from persecution, has been exploring ways of repatriating them. A few hundred have voluntarily flown out to third-party countries after being paid a small stipend by the Israeli government. Directly returning the migrants is difficult, as Israel has no relations with Sudan. The United Nations, meanwhile, recommends against sending Eritrean expatriates back to Asmara, which does recognize Israel but has suffered from war.

Israel has been erecting a fence along its porous Sinai border, which is scheduled for completion next year.

Israel deports 150 African migrants


Israel sent 150 Sudanese migrants back to their home country.

The deportees, who left late Monday night, will fly through a third country on their way back. Sudan would not take them back directly since the African nation is technically at war with Israel.

Israeli officials stressed that each of the migrants had agreed to leave voluntarily. In addition to paying for their flights home, Israel also gave each returning family $500. Most of the migrants entering Israel are economic migrants, not refugees, according to reports.

The deportation was coordinated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Some 200 other Sudanese agreed to be repatriated and received stipends for doing so in recent months, Reuters reported.

In recent weeks, Israel has begun to make a greater effort to halt illegal African migration into Israel. The government recently approved the building of a detention center near the border with Egypt to hold and deport illegals, and last month Israel began construction of a barrier between parts of its border with Egypt to prevent illegal migrants from entering the country.

More Information on Getting That Visa


Visa Violations

The U.S. government estimates that about 40 percent of people who are in this country illegally arrived on a legal visa but lost their legal status either by overstaying or otherwise violating the terms of their visa. These are sometimes referred to as “nonimmigrant overstayers.”

Nonimmigrant overstayers include those who came here on a student visa (F-1 or M-1 visa, depending on the type of studies pursued) or their family’s visa (F-2 or M-2). Others come on a tourist visa (B-2) or temporary business visa (B-1).

Another visa commonly used by nonimmigrant overstayers is the H-series visa (H-1, H-2, etc.), which permits those with specialty occupations to enter the country, as well as their families, who enter with an H-4 visa. Another visa commonly used is the R-1, those permitted to enter the United States as “religious workers” and their spouses and children, who enter with an R-2 visa.

All of the above-cited visas are violated if the bearers remain in the United States in a different status from that stipulated in the visa, or if they stay beyond the valid period.

Aid for Those Who Overstay

There are a number of agencies that can help people who are here illegally and would like to talk with someone without fear of being arrested or deported.

Here is a partial list:

  • HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, offers a variety of services and acts as advocates for migrants’ rights. Their main office is in New York, 333 Seventh Ave., 16th floor, New York, NY 10001-5004. (212) 967-4100, (212) 613-1409 or (800) 442-714. www.hias.org.
  • In Southern California, Public Counsel has a program called Immigrants’ Rights Project, which offers a variety of services. Public Counsel, P.O. Box 76900, Los Angeles, CA 90076. (213) 385-2977. Their office is located at 610 Ardmore Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005, and their phone number at that office is (213) 385-9089. They accept appointments only, no walk-ins. www.publiccounsel.org.
  • Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) offers a variety of services. They are located at 5228 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90022. For more information, call (213) 640-3883 or visit www.lafla.org.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union also offers aid at 1616 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026. (213) 977-9500. www.aclu-sc.org

There are also many private attorneys and legal firms that offer services to those in this situation. L.A. newspapers in Spanish, Hebrew, Russian and other languages all have ads for immigration attorneys who are experienced in dealing with cases involving nonimmigrant overstayers and other immigrant issues.