Police Crack Down on Money Transfers Abroad by Illegal Workers

(Abed Abed/Flash 90, File)

In another tactic to encourage illegal migrant workers to return to their countries of origin, a special police unit has begun acting this week to halt transfers of money by illegal workers out of Israel. The unit, working under direct orders of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, has been patrolling areas where there are large numbers of illegal workers, and interceding when they try to send money abroad at businesses that provide that service.

Police have actually begun enforcing a law that was passed in 2013, making such transfers illegal. While banks have complied with the rule, enforcement has been spotty, and unlicensed money-changers, using international transfer services, have been collecting cash or checks from illegal workers and transferring them to family or friends in their countries of origin. Foreign workers have also been making the transfers via Palestinian money-changers.

While efforts to deport the illegal workers have hit a wall – the High Court has struck down several programs, including closing down detention camps in southern Israel, and another plan to deport illegals to an African country willing to accept them breaking down – the government has successfully implemented a number of economic sanctions on illegals, including requiring them to deposit 20 percent of their salaries in a special account, which they will get only when they leave the country.

Israel this week announced that it will not be joining an international agreement on easing migration between countries. The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), approved in 2016 nearly unanimously by the United Nations, seeks to implement “global solutions and global responsibility-sharing, based on international cooperation” for migration, which has become “a global reality, which no country can address on its own,” according to the GCM.

The compact requires that members implement “concrete actions that will help States to reduce irregular migration, for example through enhanced cooperation on addressing the drivers of migration, fighting trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants, managing borders and facilitating return.”

The compact has been rejected by the United States and numerous European countries, who are concerned that the text of the document will allow for free migration, not just for political refugees, but for “economic refugees” who illegally enter a county looking for work.

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