Ministry: Most Deported Foreign Workers Replaced by Arab Israelis

Local workers replaced foreign workers who were deported by the state last year, according to an Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry survey.

The document, which was recently released and pertains to 2006 employment figures, indicates that the majority of the workers who replace foreigners are Arabs and those with minimal education.

The state deported 3,500 illegal foreign workers in 2006, compared to 6,500 in the previous year, according to the survey. Meanwhile, between 2002 and 2006, unemployment among Arab-Israeli men fell by almost 3 percent, from 16.8 percent to 13.9 percent.

Roni Ben Tzuri, who conducted the survey, said that Immigration Police arrested 6,300 foreign workers in 2006, but only 56 percent were deported. In the previous year, police arrested 9,700 workers and deported two-thirds of them to their countries of origin.

The survey reveals data concerning the makeup of the country?s foreign worker community. About one quarter of all foreign workers deported in 2006 were Chinese, with another 24 percent from Thailand. Immigrants from the former Soviet Union comprised 16 percent of all deported aliens.

"In recent years, we have seen an increase in the number of African and east Asian deportees," Ben Tzuri added. "At the same time, we have seen a gradual decline in the number of deported workers from the East European bloc. In 2003, East Europeans accounted for one half of all deportees. Last year, they comprised only 35 percent."

The largest group of deportees ?(23 percent?) in 2005 and 2006 were Filipinos. Most of them entered Israel with work permits and stayed after their permits had expired.

The Industry Ministry expects the transition of employment from private businesses to corporations, which is currently under way, to lead to a drop in the number of foreign workers, especially illegal workers. The ministry is basing its projection on recent developments in the construction industry, which moved to corporate labor in 2005, while the agriculture and care giving sectors are making the same transition this year.

Corporate employment is expected to ensure stricter supervision over employers, and impose restrictions on transfering workers from one employer to another. The ministry noted that the new system will lead to an increase in employer expenditures on foreign labor. ?Israeli employers may find it necessary to reassess the profitability of hiring foreign workers,? ministry sources said.