The Migration Industry: Labor Migrant Recruitment Practices in Israel
In this paper we examine the practices involved in the recruitment of Southeast Asian labor migrants arriving in Israel to work in three sectors: caregiving (from the Philippines, Nepal, and Sri Lanka), agriculture (Thailand), and construction (China).
We show the forms by which migrant networks and manpower agencies and agents intertwine to self-perpetuate a continuous flow of precarious labor force from South East Asia. Currently, Southeast Asian migrants comprise 74 percent of all migrant workers arrivals. The study draws on 200 semi-structured interviews conducted in with migrant workers from Thailand, China, Philippines, Nepal and Sri Lanka All five countries of origin have established mechanisms aimed at regulating the recruitment process, curtailing illegal recruitment and protecting migrants from exploitation. But combating recruitment irregularities and exploitation of migrants ultimately depends on regulations and their enforcement in the destination country where most malpractices and abuse take place. The authority vested in private manpower agencies in Israel to manage the recruitment of migrants creates a favorable environment for malpractices and the subsequent exploitation of workers. Charging exorbitant recruitment fees has become a rampant practice which the Israeli authorities have failed to curb. The high brokerage fees also lead to other forms of abuse and contract violations placing the workers at risk of apprehension and deportation.