As the Trump administration threatens to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants from Central America and Haiti with Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Israel may deport tens of thousands of African migrants. The move is criticized, by some, as racist or xenophobic.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called the asylum-seekers "illegal infiltrators." Many, including pro-Israel dignitaries, called such comments unhelpful. At the heart of the controversy is how Israel, founded as a home for persecuted Jews, accepts and integrates newcomers, while preserving its Jewish identity. Israel’s approximately 40,000 African migrants have been in limbo for years. Many fled political crises in Eritrea or Sudan. Of the more than 13,000 asylum applicants, Israel recognizes only 10 as refugees.
However, Israel does prioritize the relocation of vulnerable Jews from around the world, including countries like Egypt, Morocco, and Ethiopia. In December, the Israeli parliament passed a bill authorizing the removal of asylum seekers. As the policy winds through Israeli courts, reportedly, the policy was amended to exclude people like disabled persons, women and children. On February 4, the government began issuing deportation notices to some male migrants to leave without their families. We’ll discuss the controversy with Michael Omerman, editor-in-chief of +972, an Israeli-Palestinian blog-based web magazine.