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Interior Min.'s Immigration Police Calls Temporary Halt to Deportation of Illegal Workers' Children
Children of illegal foreign workers and their families will not be deported over the next few months, but will instead be given visa extensions until March 1, Sasi Katzir, the head of the Population Administration, decided this weekend.
The extension is meant to ensure that no children are deported until the ministerial committee on the population administration decides whether to adopt former interior minister Avraham Poraz's recommendations on granting residency rights to certain children of illegal foreign workers. The committee will not be able to meet until the interior minister-designate, Ophir Pines-Paz, formally takes office.
Poraz had also issued a temporary ban on deporting children of foreign workers, but his order will expire at the end of December.
Katzir's order, however, is far broader than that issued by Poraz. Poraz's directive applied only to families with children who would be eligible for Israeli residency under his recommendations - namely, children between the ages of 10 and 18 who were either born in Israel or have lived here most of their lives. Katzir's order applies to all children of illegal foreign workers, with no restrictions.
Katzir's office explained yesterday that the issued this comprehensive ban on deportations in order to give the new interior minister "freedom of action to draft his own criteria, if he so chooses," as to which children will be eligible for Israeli residency.
Poraz's proposal, drafted in consultation with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, would have given first temporary, and then permanent, residency to some 600 or 650 children of illegal foreign workers. It would also have enabled their parents to work here legally until these children turned 21, and to keep any younger children here with them during this time.
When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon fired all the Shinui party ministers earlier this month, Poraz ordered Katzir to grant these families immediate residency rights in accordance with his proposal. However, Mazuz overturned this directive, saying that only the ministerial committee had the power to order Poraz's recommendations put into practice.
It is not yet clear whether the committee will do this, since several members of it expressed strong opposition to Poraz's proposal. However, the committee's composition is likely to change once the unity government is formed.