With it’s high standard of living and western outlook, Israel has become another destination for desperate Africans searching for opportunities away from home. Despite its tight grip on security and the constant vigilance for terrorists and infiltrators, since 2005 about 60,000 illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa have found their way into the country through the Egypt-Israel border.
Many of the problems that other countries face with illegal immigrants, namely crime, have caused Israelis to push for deportation of the migrants. According to the New York Times, their Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said the migrants were “economic immigrants and that they threaten the Jewish character of Israel.” While many of the illegals are from Sudan and Eritrea, three Nigerians caught in are being deported while some fight to stay in the country using a somewhat familiar refrain: they will be killed if they return home.
Read an excerpt from the New York Times:
We say: ‘Be fair, we are Jews. Decide who is or isn’t a refugee,’ ” said Iftah Cohen, a lawyer working for We Are Refugees, an Israeli organization that provides free legal aid to asylum seekers threatened with deportation.
One of them is Mary Eze, a widow who has a 4-year-old boy, Valentine. Ms. Eze left Nigeria in 2007 with her husband after his family disapproved of their marriage. They went to Cairo, where Valentine was born. But even after her husband died in a car accident, his family tracked her down in Egypt. “They came to take Valentine,” she said.
Ms. Eze and Valentine escaped to Sinai, where, she said, over 15 months they were beaten and abused by Bedouin smugglers. Eventually, one tribesman took pity and sent them to Israel. After five months in Saharonim Prison, she and Valentine were taken to the airport to be sent back to Nigeria where, she believes, they would be killed.
Then, We Are Refugees lawyers intervened. Ms. Eze’s case is now in court.
“We came with nothing,” she said. “We have nowhere in the world.”
Source: New York Times
Photo credit: Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times