JERUSALEM (JTA) — Children of foreign workers in Israel illegally will be deported at the end of the school year.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office made the announcement late Sunday regarding the children, who are studying in the state school system and number about 1,200.
The prime minister also instructed Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to lead a team that will formulate a comprehensive policy on reducing the number of illegal foreign workers in Israel. The team will consider, among other issues the team will consider stiffening punitive measures against employers who violate the law, increased enforcement measures and the construction of a ground barrier along the southern border.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman will be part of the team.
The issue of foreign workers’ children, many of whom were born in Israel and speak only Hebrew but have no visa, has been contentious in recent weeks, as human rights groups have publicized the cause and fought to prevent the deportations.
Yishai, the Shas Party leader, has been leading the call for deportation. Yishai claims that allowing the children to remain and giving them citizenship could damage the Jewish character of the state.