Five hundred Colombian foreign workers and their children could be expelled from Israel due to new residency criteria introduced by the country’s government.
Sabine Hadad, spokesperson for the Israeli Interior Ministry, said the documents submitted by foreign workers are currently being reviewed and it will soon be decided who has to leave the country. She told El Espectador that “the government has made a decision and everyone will need to comply with it.”
According to information provided by the Colombian Embassy in Tel Aviv and a report from the Colombian foreign minister, out of 7500 Colombians who live in Israel, 500 people are illegal immigrants who are mainly working in cleaning jobs or caring for children, El Espectador reports.
Israel’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, is concerned that illegal workers being allowed to stay in the country sends the wrong message, and that foreigners are additionally a danger to the state of Israel. “Jews need to remain a majority in the population, so that the country does not lose its character,” Yashai added.
While the children of many illegal immigrants are already well integrated into Israel’s society, speaking Hebrew, and attending Israeli schools, to Yishai, “the fact that a child of a foreign worker speaks Hebrew is not enough to be granted Israeli citizenship.”
Under Israel’s current regulations, citizenship is only granted to children with at least one parent who has already been given a residence permit. Only people of Jewish origin or those who have converted to Judaism through an official process recognized by the state, are granted citizenship.