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PM: Migrants to be deported in dignified manner (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON, REUTERS 06/17/12)Source: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=274117 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
With heart-rending scenes of police rounding up frightened African migrants on the nightly news, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday an orderly deportation process that will "preserve the dignity" of those slated for expulsion.

"The first plane of illegal infiltrators will leave tonight for South Sudan," Netanyahu said. "Next week another plane will leave. The government is today essentially starting the return of the illegal infiltrators to their lands of origin."

Netanyahu said the government is dealing with the migrant problem through the completion of the border fence with Egypt within the next few months; an expedited process to deport infiltrators, in some cases to third countries: and taking away the motivation for others to come to Israel by implementing a number of steps.

These disincentive steps include ending the practice of directing infiltrators to Tel Aviv or other locations, and rather transferring them directly to detention centers where they can be held for up to two years. In addition, Netanyahu said the Knesset approved a law last week to level strict penalties on employers giving the migrants work.

"The infiltrators come here to work," Netanyahu said. "If there will not be work for them here they will have no reason to come."

The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority (PIBA) had announced on Friday that it was extending a one-week deadline for South Sudanese migrants to voluntarily leave Israel in exchange for 1,000 euros and a flight ticket home courtesy of the State of Israel. The Interior Ministry issued the ultimatum last week, saying the migrants would be arrested and expelled after the deadline was up.

PIBA stated that some 300 people in the South Sudanese migrant community had already opted to leave voluntarily. The entire community is estimated at between 700 and 1,500 people. The one-week deadline was extended due to the relative success of the operation, according to PIBA, which did not specify until when it would extend the deadline. “Operation Going Back Home” was put into effect after the Jerusalem District Court ruled last week that the South Sudanese would not be in physical danger if they were returned to their country.

Meanwhile, the South Sudanese government said Sunday that it supports Israel´s decision to send illegal migrants back to South Sudan. Formally independent from Sudan since last July, the African country received clandestine Israeli help for decades prior and counts on wider investment in its struggling agriculture and oil sectors.

"South Sudan and Israel, we consider ourselves brothers and sisters because we have very strong relationship," Clement T. Dominic, the South Sudanese official overseeing the airlifts set to begin on Sunday night, told Reuters in an interview.

"The situation is good at home, and that is why we are encouraging them (migrants) to come back," he said.

Dominic put the number of South Sudanese in Israel at 700, less than half the 1,500 figure given by the Netanyahu government - a discrepancy that may be due to administrative confusion over those who arrived before Juba´s independence.

According to Dominic, most of the migrants would leave voluntarily, encouraged by the free transport and Israeli handouts of 1000 euros per adult and 300 euros per child. "I think this is a good package that will allow these people to get reintegrated when they come back to South Sudan," said Dominic, whose title is undersecretary of the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry.

"There is a lot of potential in South Sudan," he said, noting that "some of these people, I think, they got skill here in Israel, in hotel industries, in small business, and when they get back home they are definitely going to contribute to the development of the new nation. There are a lot of opportunities." Ben Hartman contributed to this story. (© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 06/17/12)

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