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Israel detains illegal African migrants as part of deportation plan backposted on Fri, 15 Jun at 06:15
Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israeli authorities said Tuesday they detained 240 illegal migrants as part of a controversial plan to deport some of the thousands of Africans who have flooded the country illegally in recent years.
Another 300 illegal migrants volunteered Tuesday to return to their country of origin, Israel's immigration ministry said. All the migrants detained Tuesday are Sudanese.
"We are sending the infiltrators, migrants, back to their homes like all countries in the West, in Europe, in the USA act when dealing with migrants," Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Tuesday.
"Israel is acting according to international law and international charters dealing with infiltrators and migrants that come into the country against the law," he said. "We are acting according to the same law as the United States and Europe."
The issue of illegal African migrants has been of growing concern in the country in recent months. According to government records, more than 59,000 illegal African immigrants have entered the country in recent years through its southern border with Egypt.
Open Mic: Israel immigration tensions
More than 2,000 new migrants have been reported over the past month.
Some residents of southern Tel Aviv neighborhoods, where there is a large concentration of Africans, have blamed their new neighbors for increasing crime and suffocating the infrastructure and public services. Some also complain the illegal immigration is changing the fabric of Israel.
Several hundred Sudanese immigrants rallied Sunday in Tel Aviv, demanding refugee status.