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Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009, 12:18 pm
On the issue of Israeli born kids of illegal foreign workerks

"When I arrive to some foreign country," he quoted, "I never ask whether the laws there are good or bad, but only whether they are enforced." (c) the Strugatsky brothers, (often misattributed to Confucious).

The hysteria around those Israeli-born foreign workers' kids and the protests against their deportation is really getting on my nerves; and it's even not so much the foreign workers themselves as the various "human rights" organizations (who should probably rather be called "human rights of some selected groups of people" organizations, said groups of people including Palestinian terrorists, foreign workers etc, but never the citizens of Sderot or Gilad Shalit), and not so much the human rights organizations as the fact that the government chooses to succumb to them (see latest article for example)

In this note we will overview the overview the Israeli citizenship law, the two methods used in defining citizenship laws around the world, the repatriation laws around the world and the (lack of) logic behind the demands of the "human rights" organizations.

So, here goes the citizenship law of Israel-- the full text of the law is here: http://www.geocities.com/savepalestinenow/israellaws/fulltext/nationalitylaw.htm--

And here's a short summary of ways to get Israeli citizenship from that law:

1. Any Jew who makes Aliyah may be granted Israeli citizenship
2. Anyone born in Israel among whose parents at least one was an Israeli citizen at the time of his birth may get an Israeli citizenship
3. By naturalization: having had a permanent residence permit and resided in Israel at least three years out of five years prior to submission of his application
4. Someone who served in the army may get an Israeli citizenship as may the parents of a soldier who died during army service.
5. Israeli citizenship is conferred to children of people who acquire Israeli citizenship.
6. By marriage to an Israeli citizen

Also, I believe there is a provision allowing the minister of the interior to grant an Israeli citizenship in exceptional circumstances, which for some reason I'm not finding in this text-- but there is no regular legal way (=an established procedure) for children of illegal immigrants to obtain an Israeli citizenship under the current legislation.

And I don't see why should there be one.

But then, step up the human right groups and claim that deporting those children (and their parents) would be immoral and violate human rights etc etc and thus citizenship should be granted to them. Some argue further that the Israeli citizenship law is racist and that it deports all those "poor children who had lived in Israel all of their life" while allowing some other people to immigrate and get citizenship, only because they're Jewish.

But is it?

Let's examine citizenship and repatriation laws from around the world and find out.

There are two models all citizenship laws all around the world are based on: lex soli (law of the land) and lex sanguinis (law of the blood); the most common case being a mix of the two.

Basically what they say is:

1. Lex soli: anyone born within a country's territory is its citizen (e.g USA)
2. Lex sanguinis: any child of a citzen is its citizen. Sometimes further descendants may get citizenshp as well. This is the mode in most European countries.

Wikipedia articles about those, recommmended as a very educational read:
Lex soli
Lex Sanguinis.

So, Israel's situation is far from unique, being some form of lex sanguinis, with the exception of the law of return (which, thinking about it, also falls under lex sanguinis, but it deserves to be addressed separately).

However, upon investigating the issue we find that the Law of Return is not that unique either and a lot of countries have repatriation laws allowing people of certain ethnicity to acquire their citizenship. Those include Greece, Japan, Finland, Germany, Serbia and others (see here and here and note the "criticism" section in the latter article).

Now let's compare what happens here to what happens to children of illegal immigrants in the United States (where, for the record those children are citizens by birth).

And here's a nice article: link (also, interestingly, there's a term for those children in the united states-- "anchor babies."-- see here)

Yup. Children may be given citizenship, but their parents are deported. Why? Because this is the law. If there was no law in the US that anyone born on its territory is automatically a citizen, those children would be deported too, and no one would have a problem with that (and in fact those anchor babies are a reason that the US consider changing their nationality law) .

What I'm trying to say is-- Israel has certain laws regarding citizenship. They aren't something out of the ordinary. To protest against the enforcement of those laws on the grounds that they are allegedly racist, as though Israel was the only racist country in the world, when in fact they're widespread around the rest of the world and no one criticizes countries other than Israel for being racist for having similar laws is ridiculous, to say the least.

And yes, I think that laws should be either enforced or changed if they are bad or cannot be enforced. But this particular law? There is no problem with it (except with the definition of who is a Jew, but as the illegal immigrants addressed in this paper are definitely not, this issue will not be addressed in this note). There is a problem with its enforcement.

And its enforcement should be way more strict than it is and that extending the foreign workers' residence permits is a wrong thing to do. The possession of and unrestricted usage of genitalia by some people is not a reason to allow illegal immigration.

The law may be bad, but as long as it exists, it should be enforced. This is what laws are for.

Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 11:37 am (UTC)

The idea of deporting someone to a land they have never seen seems strange to me. More like exile than deportation. But I guess that would depend on the age of the child and whether their parents are with them when they are deported.

What if the country they come from has Lex soli but not Lex sanguinis? Does that mean they belong nowhere? Exile seems a harsh penalty for a child who has done nothing wrong.

Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 12:02 pm (UTC)

What if the country they come from has Lex soli but not Lex sanguinis?

A: 1. I know of no country which has no form of Lex sanguinis even when Lex soli is used.
2. See the Wikipedia article on lex soli-- quote: "Countries that have acceded to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness will grant nationality to otherwise stateless persons who were born on their territory, or on a ship or plane flagged by the country." and see the article about the convention.

The idea of deporting someone to a land they have never seen seems strange to me. More like exile than deportation.

What seems strange to me is the production of babies by illegal immigrants only to use them as means to extend and/or legalize their status in the country.

Wed, Oct. 14th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)

What seems strange to me is the production of babies by illegal immigrants only to use them as means to extend and/or legalize their status in the country.

It shouldn't apply to the parents, only the children.

Tue, Oct. 13th, 2009 04:42 pm (UTC)

Really, I think their parents should have thought of this before having those babies.

Wed, Oct. 14th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)

Honestly, I have no idea about the issue at hand, only the general principals behind citizenship. The parents should be punished; the children should not. In most cases parents would take their children with them if deported and it would solve both issues. I don't think the parents have any right to citizenship through their children... at least not until they are old and need their children to look after them.

Wed, Oct. 14th, 2009 04:51 am (UTC)

Of course the children shouldn't *be* punished as such - they did nothing wrong. It's a classic case of parents messing up and the poor kids paying the price.

Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 11:47 am (UTC)

Is your Facebook profile open for viewing to people without Facebook? I ask because I think that Roni and you had an interesting discussion of this issue there, and I'd like to link to it -- but I'm not sure the link will be useful... Thanks, great article!

Thu, Oct. 15th, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)

Not technically possible, unfortunately. You have to have a facebook login :(

Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)

А если ты сделаешь "share - Everyone"? Не поможет?

Fri, Oct. 16th, 2009 05:10 pm (UTC)

It is, theoretically, supposed to work, but in practice the person you share this with will need to have a facebook login.

You might try this with sharing it to your own email and viewing the thing while not being logged in. Doesn't work :(