Renewed suspicions over illegal immigrant amnesty

9th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

9 June 2006, BRUSSELS — Interior Minister Patrick Dewael is allegedly issuing residence permits to illegal immigrants who have not lodged an application to stay in Belgium.

9 June 2006

BRUSSELS — Interior Minister Patrick Dewael is allegedly issuing residence permits to illegal immigrants who have not lodged an application to stay in Belgium.

The claims were made by a spokesman for the protest group UDEP, which represents illegal immigrants currently staging church sit-in protests against the government's immigration policies.

Ali Guissé was one of the asylum seekers who started a hunger strike in the Sint-Bonifatius Church in Ixelles/Elsene at the end of last year.

Five months later, he and 90 percent of the other protestors were given official residency status. "But I did not submit an application for regularisation," he said.

The Belgian asylum and regularisation system are two completely different systems, but Guissé also said refugees without official papers have been granted residency without lodging a request for asylum.

Guissé's claims contradict a statement made last month by Liberal VLD minister Dewael, who said protesting illegal immigrants cannot rightfully claim they have been waiting for years for official residency.

"Some of them have not even lodged an application. Those people can’t expect regularisation," Dewael said.

But the alleged arbitrary manner in which Dewael grants residency has been the subject of continued criticism.

And there are no procedures or criteria used for the granting of residency based on humanitarian reasons, newspaper 'De Standaard' reported on Friday. The authority of such decisions rests entirely with the minister.

This system will remain in place even under the new asylums law which is currently being debated in Parliament.

The Council of State has criticised the legislation and the Socialist PS, Humanist CDH and green parties Ecolo and Groen! lodged a proposed amendment on Thursday to establish clear and definite criteria.

However, the Interior Ministry denied residency is being granted to foreigners who have not lodged an application. It also stressed that Dewael has repeatedly made clear the criteria he uses: "Our policy is and remains clear".

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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