Belgium begins granting residency to migrant hopefuls

16th September 2009, Comments 2 comments

Belgium began a major operation on Tuesday to grant legal residency status to illegal immigrants who cannot be expelled on humanitarian grounds, officials said.

While insisting that official papers would only be distributed on a case-by-case basis, the government launched a process expected to last three months, until 15 December in cities across the country.

Tents and portable toilets were set up to handle those seeking papers in the northern port city of Antwerp and in Ghent, to the west, with a large number of public officers were mobilised to handle the processing.

However only a few dozen people sought to do register, local officials said.

In Brussels, a spokeswoman for the foreign office said "there was no mile-long queue" either.

In a similar operation in 1999, some 57,000 people were allowed to stay.

"It is impossible to know how many foreigners will be regularised since, by definition, we cannot know the number of people who do not have papers," the spokeswoman said.

For now, people who have requested asylum and deemed to have waited too long, sometimes more than three or four years, or those living in an "urgent humanitarian situation" or those who have long-term links to Belgium are being considered.

Priority is also given to those who speak French or Dutch, have tried to obtain some form of legal status, or who have a permit to work in Belgium as well as an employment contract.

This last category will pose a problem as many illegal residents with jobs are working on the black market, most commonly in the building industry, without an employment contract.

In late July this year, Belgian police ejected almost 500 illegal residents from a central Brussels building they had been living since mid-May, in the second operation of its kind in 48 hours.

Illegal immigrants have frequently staged protests and hunger strikes in the capital in an effort to win legal residency.


2 Comments To This Article

  • Ngambi Rick posted:

    on 16th September 2009, 18:47:46 - Reply

    In which century are we living in? The world is a free world ok? Was there a country call Belgium 2000 years ago? People must be free to live in any part of the world without any political restriction. Today man has created boaders which lead to many teritorial wars the world over.

    The Belgian government has not even done enough. In my humble opinion, everone without papers should be granted the oportunity to live and work in Belgium because Belgium also benefit from them.

    People has always been on the move since creation and it will not stop now. Colonization came as a result of this same facts, in search for riches or miniral resources, now is high time for the balance to be equated and it should be respected. No Humanbeing Is Illegal in Gods own world because we are his creation regardles of race or tribe.
  • Jim Steele posted:

    on 16th September 2009, 15:32:55 - Reply

    What part of the word "illegal" don't we understand.
    We are just exacerbating the problem by granting residency. What about the people, still in line, who are attempting to immigrate legally.Why bother, just walk in and claim "humanitarian reasons". A joke!