Israeli Minister Pushes to Deduct Coronavirus Fines From Asylum Seekers' Deposit Accounts

Apparently hoping to 'bolster deterrence,' Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan wants to dig into migrants' compulsory savings

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Police hand out fliers about the coronavirus to migrant workers and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv's Neveh Sha’anan neighborhood, March 22, 2020.
Police hand out fliers about the coronavirus to migrant workers and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv's Neveh Sha’anan neighborhood, March 22, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan appealed to Interior Minister Arye Dery Sunday to promote legislation that would allow the state to use funds from asylum seekers’ mandatory deposit accounts to pay any fines they receive for violating the coronavirus regulations.

Haredi leaders learn harsh corona lesson as Israel sends in the troopsCredit: Haaretz

Since 2018, 20 percent of asylum seekers’ wages are deposited into accounts that they will only have access to once they leave Israel. The Interior Ministry recently allowed asylum seekers who lost their job or were furloughed due to the coronavirus crisis to withdraw funds from these accounts to pay for living expenses.

According to Erdan, “offsetting the fines from the deposit money will help bolster deterrence in south Tel Aviv and prevent the spread of the virus among this population.” Erdan’s initiative is awaiting approval by the Justice Ministry to raise it to a vote at an upcoming government meeting.

It isn’t easy for the state to collect fines from tickets it issues to asylum seekers, partly because of the difficulty in locating the person for collection, and because in many cases they do not have a permanent address or identity card.

Ichilov Hospital and the Tel Aviv municipality have set up a coronavirus testing center near the central bus station for the migrant and homeless populations in south Tel Aviv, which opens on Monday. It’s intended for those who have been showing symptoms of the virus.

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