Petah Tikvah mayor demands crackdown on illegal workers

Mayor Rami Greenberg asks for police assistance to take back the city center, where he says people fear to walk at night.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Petah Tikvah Mayor Rami Greenberg decided to take back his city from illegal foreigners who have allegedly created a security issue for the residents and a concurrent downturn in income for the business centers in which they congregate, Ma’ariv reported Monday.

In a meeting last week with Yossi Edelstein, director of the Enforcement and Foreign Affairs administration at the Population and Immigration Authority (PIBA), Greenberg demanded a massive crackdown on workers who have no permission to be in Petah Tikvah.

“People are really afraid to walk around the city center,” Greenberg said. “The heart of the city becomes desolate in the evening and night because of the fear of drunken foreigners, some of whom become violent. A foreign population has been created here, which organizes mass events in their areas, such as weddings, even on Saturdays, with nobody to stop them. Some of the residents of the city center are leaving to other places. This situation cannot continue.”

The mayor is hoping to renew the heart of downtown Petah Tikvah with the help of its resident businesses and landowners. New office buildings along with the development and expansion of local companies would benefit the city, which would reap the profits from additional taxes in order to upgrade the residential areas.

Greenberg believes that the illegal migrants are standing in the way of his city’s progress, and he lays the blame for the difficult situation largely on the closure of the Holot detention center last March.

The government opened Holot at the end of 2013 to reduce the flood of illegal migrants into Israel’s cities while encouraging those already in the country to leave. The subject of many appeals to the High Court of Justice by human rights organizations, Holot was finally shut down as part of a plan to deport the migrants – a plan that has only partially borne fruit.

Noting that there are still 35,000 illegal migrants in the country, Greenberg stated that when the government closed the holding center, “the power to enforce the law was abolished, as were the means of sanctioning foreign workers, and so today there is no way to restrict their movement.”

When PIBA released the detainees, it forbade them from moving to seven cities that already had high concentrations of migrants, including Petah Tikvah. Greenberg said it is of “supreme urgency” that enforcement commence with the cooperation of all the city’s residents and police force.