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Illegal immigrants threaten Israel's economy, security: PM (2)

(Xinhua)

12:53, December 05, 2011

He said that "similar cries can be heard in other cities around the country."

The interior ministry says an estimate of 27,000 Africans now live in Israel seeking asylum in the Jewish state under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

The majority of the immigrants are from Sudan and Eritrea while others come from Ethiopia and Nigeria. Most of them entered Israel virtually unimpeded through Israel's flimsy 240 kilometer-long desert border with Egypt. Even if they get arrested, many will receive a special visa that allows a non-deportable asylum seeker to stay under international law.

On Sunday, Netanyahu blamed the illegal immigrant flow, which reached a record level in the past few months, on the global economic crisis and the regional upheavals.

He said that his visit to Eilat prompted him to press for accelerated construction of a fence now in progress along the border and promise that it would be completed within a year.

The prime minister said that he had also directed a special ministerial committee to draft measures that will impose heavier fines on Israelis who employ illegal immigrants.

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