Caron Creighton of AP News is reporting Israel has passed a law cutting the pay of African Migrants by 20 percent. The money is held by the government and is only returned to them if they leave the country. Immigration activists say this is the latest move by an anti-immigrant government which has also used long-term detainment as a means of deterring African migrants from coming to Israel and forcing the 35,000 currently there out of the country. Creighton writes:
“The Africans, mainly from war-torn Sudan and dictatorial Eritrea, began arriving in Israel in 2005 through its porous border with Egypt after Egyptian forces violently quashed a refugee demonstration and word spread of safety and job opportunities in Israel. Tens of thousands crossed the desert border, often after enduring dangerous journeys, before Israel completed a barrier in 2012 that stopped the influx.
Since then, Israel has wrestled with how to cope with those already in the country. Many took up menial jobs in hotels and restaurants, and thousands settled in southern Tel Aviv, where Israeli residents began complaining of rising crime.
While the migrants say they are refugees fleeing conflict or persecution, Israel views them as job-seekers who threaten the Jewish character of the state.
Israel has gone from detaining them in remote desert prisons to purportedly reaching a deal with a third country, believed to be Rwanda, to have them deported there.
In April, Israel reached an agreement with the United Nations to have many, but not all, of the migrants resettled in Western countries, with others allowed to stay in Israel. But the government quickly scrapped the deal after an outcry by hard-line politicians and residents of the hardscrabble areas where many of the migrants live.”
In addition to the 20 percent “deposit tax,” migrant salaries are also subject to a 16 percent deduction which is put into a pension fund. The government is currently holding $40 million in the deposit accounts. In April, Israel scrapped a controversial plan to deport thousands of African migrants. Legally, Israel cannot deport migrants seeking asylum, so protesters say this deposit law is a way of forcing migrants to leave. The law is being challenged in the country’s Supreme Court.
Read more at AP News.