Ministry of Interior Intensifies Abuse of Asylum-Seekers
Following the passing of the new amendment to the Anti-Infiltration Law, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) significantly stepped up effort to make the lives of asylum-seekers in Israel miserable. The MoI greatly reduced the number of stay permit it extends each day, resulting in long lines in front of MoI offices and thousands of asylum-seekers who’ve been unable to renew their visas.
The non-renewal of visas also leads many employers of asylum-seekers to fire their employees, fearing they will be fined for employing people who lack valid visas. In addition, over 150 asylum-seekers who were found to be without valid visas by the Immigration Police have been arrested, sentenced by an MoI clerk to three months of imprisonment following which they will be moved to the Holot detention camp for asylum-seekers.
Under the new Anti-Infiltration Law, women and children cannot be jailed at Holot detention facility until modifications are made to the facility. As a result, so at to prevent the tearing apart of families and the disappearance of a family’s provider, the MoI declared that asylum-seekers who are married or have children will not be jailed in the Holot camp, for the time being. Despite this statement, due to the MoI’s longtime policy of not registering marriages of asylum-seekers or the names of fathers of children born to asylum-seekers in Israel, many refugees have trouble proving that they are indeed fathers or are married. Ministry of Interior clerks order asylum-seekers who attempt to prove that they have families in Israel to provide different documents and have them verified by a notary. Asylum-seekers have to visit hospitals, churches, family courts and then pay notaries hundreds of shekels to verify the documents. After standing in lines for days, some of the couples are called to a hearing held by the MoI to verify that they are indeed spouses.
The government is doing everything within its power to force asylum-seekers into leaving Israel as there is no legal possibility to deport them. The State has ordered thousands of asylum-seekers to report of detention in Holot, where they will be held indefinitely while Ministry of Interior officials “convince” them to leave to their homeland; those who are not detained due to the limited capacity of Holot (3,300 beds) or because they are fathers, are forced to stand in lines for days and lose their jobs. At the same time, the State makes it difficult for asylum-seekers to apply for refugee status, and due to the blatant unfairness of Israel’s asylum system, the likelihood that people who deserve refugee status will be recognized is close to nil – in Israel, just 0.004% of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers received refugee status, while in the rest of the world, the recognition rate of citizens of those countries as refugees stands at around 80%.
As a result of this bureaucratic abuse, the work load of the Hotline has significantly increased. In January 2014 alone the activists and lawyers of the Hotline sent no less than 298 different letters to Ministry of Interior offices regarding cases of asylum-seekers. Our work costs money. Please consider donating to the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants so we can continue to prevent the detention of asylum-seekers.