Stop the Revolving Door

In its decision to delay the deportation of the foreign workers' children until August, the government avoided making a decision.

In its decision to delay the deportation of the foreign workers' children until August, the government avoided making a decision. It seems that the activity of the human rights organizations and the nonprofit groups that aid the foreign workers, as well as the counter-pressure by the Interior Ministry and the sectoral parties, are making it hard for the prime minister and his cabinet to take a decisive stand. This is an outrageous weakness that is endangering Israeli society and its economy.

Israel is a country with only a facade of encouraging immigration. It is true that the Law of Return explicitly encourages immigration by Jews, but except for extraordinary cases when Israel's gates were opened to refugees, it does not need migration nor is it organized to absorb migrants, especially not those from the developing world.

Nevertheless, in the past 20 years, Israel has preferred to open its backdoor to hundreds of thousands of migrants. Some of them arrive as legal temporary workers in construction, agriculture and nursing care, and many of them soon become illegal migrants. Others infiltrate via the country's relatively porous borders.

All of them - legal or illegal - make it possible for employers, building contractors and farmers to continue to rely on a cheap workforce instead of investing in modern technology that saves manual labor. Most of the workers are concentrated in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area where they have become a subgroup of the population with human and civil needs that can no longer be ignored.

Within this community, the children - some of whom have no other identity than their Israeli one - constitute a group for which the state must supply educational and health services according to the United Nations charter.

A previous government also decided for humane reasons to grant some of them and their families citizenship.

But this was not done, the children turned into a political and moral weapon, and the government is now trying to deport the foreign workers while continuing to import other migrant workers.

The time has come to apply the decision to grant them citizenship and make it possible for the children who have no other identity to assimilate into Israeli society with their families. In parallel, it is time to stop importing cheap manpower and to impose more severe punishments on those who employ workers without a permit.

Perhaps Israel will then be able to allow limited and high-quality migration. Meanwhile, the revolving door that harms both foreigners and Israelis must be stopped.