FBI And INS To Cooperate In Immigrant Sweep

From Ma'ariv America

15 February, 2002

By Keren Ochayon,

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) will locate and detain 300,000 illegal aliens residing in the United States, mainly in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, according to a senior source in the FBI. The source, who leaked the information on the organization's new operation, said that the FBI and INS have information concerning 50,000 Israelis under the age of 30 who came to the United States as tourists and continued to reside here as illegal workers.

Yigal Tzarfati, an Israeli consul in New York, says there is no official information about this operation. "I avoid hearsay," he said. "We are talking about 1,000 arrested since September 11th. They have been picked up for residing and working illegally and have still not been released; it is difficult to know how accurate this information is."

"What do you know about the new operation?" asked Ma'ariv.

"I have not heard about it," Tzarfati said. "After September 11th, we used all the channels of communication to inform Israelis of the new security precautions in the United States and asked them not to work or reside illegally in the United States. America, after the tragedy of the Twin Towers, is a different America, with a harsh new attitude towards immigrants. And today, more than ever, this security and caution is fitting."

"There are signs from the FBI that they are considering creating an operation of informants, akin to one many years ago in the United States, when the agency encouraged immigrants here longer to inform on newer ones. It has also been said that the Consulate provided information about Israelis living in the city illegally, and that information led to deportations. What do you know about this?" asked Ma'ariv.

"I have no official information on this," Tzarfati said. "I have not been contacted regarding this issue, and if they [the government agencies] contacted me, I would not help them. I am not here to harm Israelis. I want very much for Israelis to obey the law, but I will not be their watchman or enemy."

During an informant operation that took place five years ago, the INS offered legal status to Israelis who gave information leading to the capture and deportation of other Israelis. In Los Angeles and Miami this operation was very successful; in New York much less so. [Ma'ariv invites readers to email their opinions about what this says about the community.]

Translated from Hebrew by Jonathan Lincoln for the Independent Press Association.

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