The government’s failure to charge illegal migrants for their detention and deportation is costing the state NIS 130 million ($41 million) each year, according to a new report by the Israeli Immigration Policy Center.
Over NIS 75 million ($24 million) were spent on deporting illegal migrants in 2016, and over NIS 76 million were spent in 2015, according to the report. The funds went toward expenses such as flights, police escorts, transportation, food and medical services but did not include incidentals such as legal proceedings, the detention of illegal residents, wages, legal support and maintenance fees, estimated to cost the state tens of millions of shekels every year.
In their report, authors attorney Dr. Yonah Sherki and Bar Pinto recommended Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked exercise her authority to promote secondary legislation to set out explicit administrative guidelines on the collection of deportation expenses.
They further recommended the justice system be updated on these new guidelines with a system to collect these charges from the migrants’ countries of origin.
In a statement following the report’s publication, representatives from the Israeli Immigration Policy Center noted Israeli authorities use a firm hand with debtors, but “those who are here illegally receive a degree of protection that stems from the absence of regulation. It is illogical for the state to reach its hand inside its pocket for illegal migrants and job seekers, but they will not pay for their violation of the law.”
The Population and Immigration Authority responded by saying that for years, the state has “preferred swift deportation to prolonged bureaucratic handling of the collection of deportation expenses, which could at times stall the deportation. The interior minister has instructed the authority to examine again whether and how the speed of expulsion and collection of expenses can be optimally balanced. The authority will carry out preparatory work and present its recommendations to the minister as soon as possible.”