Israel to Deport 40,000 Illegal Immigrants

Knesset overwhelmingly approves bill allowing gov’t to bypass Supreme Court in dealing with African migrants

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Israel's Knesset on Monday overwhelmingly approved a bill empowering the government to bypass the Supreme Court and deport more than 40,000 illegal immigrants.

The bill, approved by a 71-41 vote, will also close the illegal immigrant detention facility in the central town of Holon.

Over the past decade, some 60,000 illegal immigrants have entered Israel, most of them via the southern border with Egypt.

Most of the migrants come from northeastern African countries like Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. While some are legitimate refugees, most are economic migrants.

In 2012, Israel constructed an advanced border fence along its frontier with Egypt which drastically reduced the number of illegal immigrants entering the country.

Simultaneously, the government tried to reduce the number of illegals in the country by offering them monetary incentives to return home. But many didn't take the offer, and the Supreme Court blocked the government from forcibly deporting them.

The court also ruled that the government could only detain the illegals for up to 12 months, meaning that those who could endure a full year of internment could then remain freely in Israel indefinitely.

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