Israel scraps deportation of all African asylum seekers

Asylum seekers protesting at the Holot detention center in the southern Negev Desert of Israel, Feb 17, 2014. (photo: Ilia Yefimovich / Getty Images)

In a dramatic turnaround, Israel tells the High Court there is “no possibility” to expel migrants at this time.

By Tamar Pileggi | The Times of Israel | Apr 24, 2018

Israel has struggled with what to do with those already in the country, alternating between plans to jail and deport them and allowing them to work in menial jobs.

The Israeli government informed the High Court of Justice Tuesday it had scrapped its controversial plan to deport tens of thousands of African migrants from the country, after Israeli authorities failed to cement an emigration deal with a third country.

“At this stage there is no possibility of implementing involuntary deportations to a third country. Therefore, as of April 17, 2018, [the state] has ceased to hold hearings as part of the deportation policy, and no more deportation decisions will be made at this time,” the state said.

The admission marked a dramatic setback for the government in its years-long attempts to expel the asylum-seekers, most of them from Eritrea or Sudan, and a triumph for activists who appealed to the court against the government plans.

The government statement said existing deportation orders were canceled and said migrants with expired temporary residency permits will be able to get their visas renewed.

The High Court has demanded the government present a deportation plan that would safely resettle the migrants in a third country, or set them free from detention.

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