Thursday, January 3, 2013

Israeli border fence halts migrant flood from Egypt

 The number of migrants crossing the border between Egypt and Israel dropped to zero last week for the first time since 2006, as construction of the last small sections of a 240-kilometre fence neared completion.

A total of 36 migrants crossed into Israel from Egypt in December, all of whom were detained, compared with 2295 in January last year. The numbers steadily declined throughout last year as construction of the vast steel fence through the desert from Eilat to the border with Gaza progressed.

"We have succeeded in blocking the phenomenon of illegal infiltrators," the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said.

"It has been several months now that no infiltrator has reached [the Israeli cities of] Eilat, Be'er Sheva, Tel Aviv or any Israeli community."

Israel was repatriating migrants to their countries of origin, he said.

"For several months now hundreds of infiltrators have been leaving here … and thousands will soon do so every month until the tens of thousands of people who are here illegally return to their countries of origin."

More than 9000 migrants were deported in 2012, including almost 4000 from African countries.

Critics of the deportation policy said many migrants faced extreme danger in their home countries.

"There is no doubt the fence is working as a deterrent," said Sigal Rosen, of the Hotline for Migrant Workers.

But she added that Israel's policy of preventing refugees crossing the fence, which was built on Israeli territory, was illegal under international law.

"If a person is asking for asylum, a country has a duty to check their request," Ms Rosen said.

The fence along the southern border was estimated to have cost about 1.4 billion shekels ($360 million).

Israel now has physical barriers along all its land borders apart from one section abutting Jordan, from Eilat to the Dead Sea.  Plans to erect a fence along that border are under discussion.

Israel accelerated construction of the southern border fence after an attack by militants in August 2011 in which eight Israelis were killed.  The aim was to have it finished by the end of last year.

The gaps, which total 12.8 kilometres, are on mountainous terrain near the Red Sea resort of Eilat.

The purpose of the fence was to deter illegal immigration, cross-border militant activity and the smuggling of drugs and weapons.

More than 65,000 migrants, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, had entered Israel illegally from Egypt since 2006, according to government figures.

A US State Department report on human rights noted that Israel approved one out of 4603 applications for asylum in 2011.


Immigration Enforcement Agency Lacks Interest in Immigration Enforcement

Report Finds Deficient Regulation of Foreign Student Program

A new Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) Backgrounder finds that the agency responsible for overseeing educational institutions hosting foreign students rarely exercises its enforcement authority.

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), a subset of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) within the Department of Homeland Security, oversees nearly 1.2 million foreign students and their dependents, plus close to 7,000 educational institutions. The new report finds that despite a substantial budget and wide regulatory responsibility, SEVP rarely rejects an institution’s application for the authority to issue the Form I-20, the document allowing a potential foreign student to secure a visa from an American consulate abroad. Even more worrisome, the agency averages a mere 2.2 indictments a year of "visa mills", groups posing as bona fide educational institutions but which exist mainly to collect "tuition" in exchange for visas.

The report is online here.

Report author David North, a CIS fellow and respected immigration policy researcher, comments, “It is incredible that after the would-be Wall Street bomber, the Times Square bomber, and the two 9/11 pilots were all found to have student visas, the Department of Homeland Security makes so little effort to pursue corrupt visa mills, flight schools not authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration, and needless language schools. National security requires the enforcement of our immigration laws.”

The Backgrounder describes the assessment process: “There is no direct governmental screening of the I-20s within the United States; it is up to the consular or the USCIS officers to determine if the alien is eligible for the visa or adjustment. Nor is there any routine face-to-face contact between the SEVP and foreign students after their arrival in the United States.”

The SEVP, staffed by 750 workers and armed with $120 million in fee revenue, has ignored Congress’ mandate to recertify all of its institutions every two years. As of March 2012, the agency had only recertified 19 percent. Since one out of eight institutions approved for the issuance of I-20s has no accreditation, recertification is of particular importance. Mr. North notes, “Limited resources, the agency’s excuse for not seeking or challenging fraud, is not credible with a 2012 end of the year cash balance of 135.2 million.”

The above is a press release from from Center for Immigration Studies. 1522 K St. NW, Suite 820,  Washington, DC 20005, (202) 466-8185 fax: (202) 466-8076.  Email: The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent research institution which examines the impact of immigration on the United States.  The Center for Immigration Studies is not affiliated with any other organization

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