Dutch celebs fight to stop child deportation
A group of prominent Dutch politicians, footballers and artistes have launched a campaign for a “children’s pardon” to protect juvenile immigrants from deportation as soon as they reach 18 years of age.
The group - which includes Green Left leader Jolande Sap, VfB Stuttgart footballer Khalid Boulahrouz and TV comedian Jorgen Raymann - wants to change the immigration laws for the 1,000-2,000 minors who have been living here so long that they’ve become Dutch in their outlook.
A petition has been put up on internet and the campaigners are urging the public to sign it in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Then the group intends handing it over to Immigration Minister Gerd Leers. The MPs and Dutch celebrities say they want to avoid a repeat of the ‘Mauro drama’, when a joung Angolan schoolboy became the focus of parliamentary debate and media attention.
Mauro too Dutch The controversial Mauro case concerned an 18-year-old young man who came to the country as an unaccompanied asylum seeker when he was 10 years old. When he recently turned 18, the authorities said he had to return to his native Angola. The case caused a public outcry, with people saying he had become too 'Dutch' to be sent back. The government, however, said it could make no exceptions to the asylum rules.
The present minority coalition has adopted a tough stance towards immigration. Observers put this down to the fact that it relies on support from Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration Freedom Party for a majority in parliament.
"Give them a chance" “Give them a chance to build a good future in the Netherlands. Give them a chance to help build a good future for the Netherlands. Give them a child’s pardon!” says the action. “More Dutch than cheese…they’re the children who are forced to leave our country,” pleads their petition.
“If we do nothing their future will end in Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Angola. Countries where they don’t speak the language, where they don’t know anyone, where they are social outcasts. We’re not going to let this happen. These children belong here.”
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide