Councils predict failure of integration policy
28 July 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Medium-sized Dutch city councils claim the Cabinet's plans to force immigrants to integrate will fail and instead delay rather than accelerate the integration process. Tilburg Alderman Gon Mevis said the 26 middle-sized municipalities — grouped together as the G26 — are locked in discussions with Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk about her integration plans.
28 July 2004
AMSTERDAM — Medium-sized Dutch city councils claim the Cabinet's plans to force immigrants to integrate will fail and instead delay rather than accelerate the integration process.
Tilburg Alderman Gon Mevis said the 26 middle-sized municipalities — grouped together as the G26 — are locked in discussions with Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk about her integration plans.
Verdonk plans to drastically reform Dutch integration policy, making it not only compulsory for new permanent arrivals to integrate, but also immigrants who have been in the Netherlands for some time but who do not speak adequate Dutch.
She also intends to revamp integration courses, asserting there are too many dropouts and the courses are patronising. Instead of offering courses for free, the Christian Democrat CDA minister also intends to make immigrants largely pay for the courses themselves.
Municipalities are currently obligated to offer new arrivals Dutch language and culture classes at Regional Education Centres (ROCs). These courses often involve work training classes as well, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Wednesday.
Under the new system, immigrants will be forced to pay for the courses themselves and if they successfully pass the course within three years, they will be refunded part of the costs. If they have not passed a language exam in five years, immigrants will not be issued with a permanent residence permit.
But the municipalities fear that immigrants will take longer to learn the Dutch language. Mevis pointed out that it will only be examined after five years if an immigrant has learned Dutch, compared with the present situation in which they start learning the language as soon as they settle in a city.
The Justice Ministry — which is also responsible for immigration policy and houses the immigration service IND — has yielded to one of the demands from the 26 municipalities to introduce several trial projects.
The ministry agreed last week with the Tilburg, Gouda, Rotterdam and The Hague councils, among others, that a group of unemployed long-term immigrants will be given a compulsory programme of Dutch lessons in combination with a re-integration programme.
The results of this approach will be compared with the results of the "non-compulsory" approach proposed by Verdonk.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news