A planeload of 120 illegal migrants was scheduled to leave Israel for repatriation in South Sudan.
Israel's interior minister, Eli Yishai, promised to deport the tens of thousands of Africans who have crossed into his country illegally in recent years.
Israel sent 150 Sudanese migrants back to their home country. The deportees, who left late Monday night, will fly through a third country on their way back. Sudan would not take them back directly since the African nation is technically at war with Israel. Israeli officials stressed that each of the migrants had agreed to leave voluntarily. In addition to paying for their flights home, Israel also gave each returning family $500. Most of the migrants entering Israel are economic migrants, not refugees, according to reports.
The U.S. government estimates that about 40 percent of people who are in this country illegally arrived on a legal visa but lost their legal status either by overstaying or otherwise violating the terms of their visa. These are sometimes referred to as "nonimmigrant overstayers."