Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

1.6.2008 | Von:
Jan Schneider

Current developments and future challenges

Measures against the exploitation of foreign workers

It has meanwhile become clear that it is not possible for the policy of deporting illegally employed foreigners to reduce the number of irregular migrants in the country over the long term.

After deporting, on average, more than 1,500 people a month during the years 2003 and 2004, since 2005 the criminal prosecution authorities have focused on two points: penalising employers who employ migrants illegally, and attempting to track down "black sheep" in the system of private employment agencies, because placing guest workers in temporary jobs has developed over recent years into a full-blown industry, often with illegal practices. According to law, licensed agencies may only demand brokerage fees of a few hundred US dollars from recruited workers. In fact, however, illegal demands for money made by agents for obtaining a work permit are becoming exorbitant: according to organisations lobbying for the rights of foreign workers the average fees paid by Thais amount to between 8,000 and 10,000 US dollars, and by Chinese people to as much as 16,000 to 18,000 US dollars. [1] For the employment agents involved it is, therefore, highly lucrative to recruit new migrants and pocket the relevant fees; guest workers who are dismissed or lose their jobs for other reasons are "released into illegality". In recent years there has been no shortage of grounds for believing that parliamentary and governmental circles are also involved in this illegal business. [2]

Through the first steps towards reform in 2004, the dependence of guest workers on their employers has already been reduced. Measures to limit the power of employment agencies and to strengthen the individual rights of foreign employees, discussed by a separate parliamentary committee in the Knesset, have to be the next steps. In addition to this, the improvement of health provision for these migrants is on the agenda.

Border security

In recent years, the prostitution industry in Israel has increasingly become a market for professional human traffickers and smugglers who deal in the sexual exploitation of women, in particular, from the former states of the Soviet Union. Further efforts on the part of Israeli migration control are thus concentrated on securing external borders. The more than 200 km long Green Line with Egypt, which runs primarily through hard-to-access desert areas between the Negev and Sinai, is paricularly favoured by human traffickers. Sinai is deemed a transit route for transporting drugs and weaponry. In January 2008 the border was opened by force, allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to cross over into Egypt and stay there temporarily. [3] Consequently, the Israeli government finalised its already existing plans to secure the southwestern border with Egypt. The government fears that the opening of the border might have allowed Palestinian terrorists to cross through Egypt into the south of Israel where they could carry out attacks. Government circles close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed the expansion of border installations, estimating that the erection of a continuous border fence would cost in excess of 1 billion US dollars. By contrast, the border barriers between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, on which construction started at the beginning of the millennium, are quite far along and already form an effective means of migration control. In conjunction with hundreds of checkpoints inside the Occupied Territories, however, they drastically restrict mobility and further reduce the remaining Palestinian settlement area. The fact that the security installation – part fence, part wall – has been built predominantly on Palestinian territory and, in places, extends far inside the area of any future Palestinian state creates a serious handicap to the peace process.


Kav LaOved, Annual Report 2006 (http://www.kavlaoved.org.il/UserFiles/news825_file.pdf, 21.02.2008); The Hotline for Migrant Workers, Kav LaOved (2007): Freedom Inc. - Binding migrant workers to manpower corporations in Israel (http://www.kavlaoved.org.il/media-view_eng.asp?id=1075)
Cf. Kemp (2004); Haaretz, 29.3.2007.
Cf. newsletter: "Migration and Population" 2/2008.


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