Amsterdam holds off on IND legal action
20 October 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Amsterdam City Council has temporarily backed down from its threat to file for damages against Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk. But the city might still sue if the immigration service IND does not continue to make serious inroads into the backlog of residence permit applications.
20 October 2004
AMSTERDAM — Amsterdam City Council has temporarily backed down from its threat to file for damages against Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk. But the city might still sue if the immigration service IND does not continue to make serious inroads into the backlog of residence permit applications.
A spokeswoman for Amsterdam told Expatica on Wednesday that the IND is now meeting demands laid down by the capital so the threatened damages claim was being put on ice.
And a spokesman for the Justice Ministry — which has responsibility for the IND — also confirmed that Amsterdam had not officially lodged a claim for damages.
The Dutch capital threatened to sue Verdonk on 8 September claiming that thousands of new immigrants in Amsterdam could not start their compulsory integration course because the IND was late in issuing their residence permits. The potential damages claim was estimated at hundreds of thousands of euros.
Amsterdam Education and Integration Alderman Ahmed Aboutaleb sent a letter to Verdonk, claiming there was "a serious disruption to the chain of integration, with distressing consequences for the involved foreigners and employees of the institutes that carry out the integration programme".
Aboutaleb pointed out the average number of new arrivals beginning integration courses was about 75 per week in 2003. That had fallen to 63 in the first quarter of 2004, to 50 in the second quarter and just eight per week in the weeks between 5 July and 9 August 2004
As large numbers of foreigners had not been issued with residence permits, Amsterdam was unable to give them information about integration and teachers could not start the courses. Consequently, staff at several integration help desks in Amsterdam had insufficient work.
Aboutaleb urged Verdonk to take "radical and effective measures" to noticeably tackle the delays. He demanded that by 15 October the number of immigrants entering integration courses be increased to 30 per week and an average of 75 per week by 1 December.
If the minister failed to meet the deadline of 15 October, the Amsterdam alderman threatened to recoup the council's financial losses by lodging a damages claim.
But the council spokeswoman said the inflow of new arrivals to integration courses has increased in recent weeks to about 30 each week. The threatened damages claim has therefore been temporarily postponed.
She could not confirm though what action the council would take in future. It leaves open the possibility that a damages claim might still arise if the IND does not meet Amsterdam's ultimatum of 1 December.
But the Justice Ministry spokesman said Amsterdam currently receives each week 400 documents to issue to immigrants, some of whom will enter integration courses. He said the ministry believes the "production" rate has reached a good momentum.
Minister Verdonk told the Dutch Parliament in July that nation-wide there were 59,000 outstanding residence permit applications lodged with the IND, 28,000 of which were delayed longer then the legally-permitted six months.
She promised that 90 percent of the applications older than six months would be processed by the end of this year. The problem has been attributed to a computer problem that surfaced in May after the foreign police transferred its responsibilities to the IND at the end of last year.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news