Dewael rejects amnesty for illegals
30 January 2006, BRUSSELS — Interior Minister Patrick Dewael has written a letter responding to criticisms Antwerp Bishop Paul Van den Berghe directed at his asylums policy last week.
30 January 2006
BRUSSELS — Interior Minister Patrick Dewael has written a letter responding to criticisms Antwerp Bishop Paul Van den Berghe directed at his asylums policy last week.
Van den Berghe pleaded for an amnesty for all illegal immigrants in Belgium, the right to immigration and government support for immigrants without documentation.
He publicly backed demands last week raised by the Hope for Papers protest action and promised to participate in a 15 February demonstration.
As "bishop, Christian and civilian", Van den Berghe urged for a warm society and defended illegal immigrants living in Belgium without the correct documentation.
"They function perfectly in our society. Sending them back would be a wrong signal," he said.
Dewael rejected the demands in his letter, stressing also that he has "the utmost understanding for people who want to lighten the misery of others."
"But I ask them to see the entire context of the problem and not only the problem of a neighbour or friend," the Liberal VLD minister said.
Dewael urged the bishop to help him tackle the reasons why asylum seekers seek shelter in Belgium, such as inequality, the difference between rich and poor and the terrible living conditions in the developing world.
He said the Geneva Convention states that people who are at threat must be given asylum, but if the request for asylum is refused, the refugee must leave the country.
"Can I reward the people who have for many years consciously breached the law by staying here illegally while others who voluntarily and spontaneously leave are in fact punished?" he asked.
The federal government minister warned further that granting an amnesty to illegal immigrants would prompt a flood wave of illegal immigration.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news