Dutch government says immigrants must pay for 'integration'

Dutch government says immigrants must pay for 'integration'

15th November 2010, Comments 14 comments

Moroccan-born Rahmouna Lakdhari was still living as an outsider after 13 years in her adoptive Netherlands, prevented by language and cultural barriers from working and making new friends.

But last year, the life of the 33-year-old who followed her husband to the land of windmills, bicycles and tulips changed dramatically thanks to a state-sponsored integration course--a privilege the new, rightist government plans to take away.

"Only now am I learning what one needs to know about the Netherlands," Lakdhari told AFP in halting Dutch at the school where she spends 10 hours a week on lessons in language and socialisation--how government works, how to befriend neighbours, open a bank account and register a birth.

The Netherlands was long seen as a land of multi-cultural tolerance. But the Dutch, like their neighbours in Germany, have shifted towards promoting greater social integration as European Union states rethink their response to continued waves of immigrants.

The country introduced integration courses in 2007, obliging all non-European adult immigrants--workers and their family members--to attend classes and pass an exam. Those who fail to do so do not qualify for permanent residence and cannot claim social benefits.

Photo © zoetnet
Multicultural: people in the stadshart, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands

As Lakdhari arrived before 2007, her course was not compulsory but she took it voluntarily at the government's expense. About 40,000 people successfully completed the course last year, according to the Dutch Centre for Foreigners (NCB).

"I can now go to the doctor and explain what is wrong with me. I no longer need my husband, my child or a neighbour to help me," Lakdhari said proudly as her classmates--mostly women in headscarves from Turkey and Morocco--nodded in agreement as they copied grammar from a black board.

"I can look for work, I can talk to people, I can help my children with homework."

The new minority coalition, which took over in October backed by a controversial anti-Islam party, is bent on halting rising public debt and aiding long-term recovery after the global economic crisis.

One target is slashing the integration budget of about EUR half-a-billion in incremental amounts, to culminate in an annual savings of more than EUR 300 million as of 2014.

The plan must still be put to parliament, where a coalition of the Christian Democratic Action (CDA) and conservative liberal VVD, backed by the Party for Freedom of anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders, hold a joint majority.

"Immigrants and asylum seekers are responsible for their own integration in our country," states a policy document of the CDA-VVD coalition.

It wants newcomers to foot the bill for the compulsory course, which training centres told AFP costs up to EUR 5,000 (USD 7,000) for up to 18 months of lessons.

'We teach people how to live together'

Under the plan, those who fail the exam will lose their temporary residence permit--meaning they must leave the country.

Today, about 3.4 million of the Netherlands' 16.6 million inhabitants are of immigrant origin--.8 million from "non-Western" countries.

"We cannot continue to allow so many people without prospects to come to the Netherlands," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after last month's inauguration.

NCB director Ilhan Akel, for one, opposes making immigrants pay for the course, calling it "short-sighted" and indicative of a "broad shift to the right".
"It is imperative that as many people as possible complete these courses," he said.

"With our ageing workforce, we need more young people to work in the care and production sectors. But if they have no language skills and sit on the margins of society, they will cost us money instead of contributing to the economy."

Photo © zoetnet

 The Netherlands: women walking on a saturday afternoon

Ahmet Azdural, director of the non-governmental organisation Turkish Participation in the Netherlands (IOT), argued that most immigrants "don't have this kind of money".

"Most people who move to a new country do so exactly because things are not great where they come from," he said.

People like Azdural fear the harsher measures will break up families--forcing people moving to the Netherlands for work to live apart from loved ones who cannot afford the integration.

Others fear the changes will drive a deeper wedge between people in a country where Wilders' anti-immigrant rhetoric has found increasingly fertile soil.

"We teach people how to speak to each other and live together," said integration teacher Corine Kobes. "Without it, I fear that attitudes on both sides will harden; there will be less understanding for each other."

For Geert de Vries, a sociologist at the Free University of Amsterdam, "the message is clear: the government only wants highly skilled immigrants with money in their wallets."

"Immigrants will be made to feel more and more unwelcome," he said. "This can only add to the tension."

Lakdhari said she was grateful to have taken the course.

"I am sorry for those people who will not have the same opportunity. It's a pity."

AFP/ Mariette le Roux/ Expatica

Photo credits: zoetnet

14 Comments To This Article

  • JR Bailey posted:

    on 3rd December 2010, 09:18:02 - Reply

    Hello again CW,

    I see. You don't like empirical evidence and actual facts, because they get in the way of your subjective personal experience.

    There's another name for that: will victim.

    Lenin had another term for it: "Useful Idiot."

    Good luck with pursuing the useful idiocy of the Islamic Front.

  • CW posted:

    on 2nd December 2010, 15:37:38 - Reply

    I prefer to base my experience on meeting real people...not reading about theoretical, statistical internet people that can be manipulated to suit a theory. So the only thing you will convince me of is that you spend too much time looking and not enough time experiencing.

    Sorry. Wouldn't even bother trying...you haven't succeeded in scaring me. I just hope innocent people aren't affected by your rants and sweeping generalizations. I don't know what I'd do or how I'd feel if my mere boring little existence was considered a threat to others. Bye.
  • JR Bailey posted:

    on 30th November 2010, 00:26:12 - Reply

    Hello again CW,

    I never said 'all' of 'all' groups' are 'all' bad.

    Once again you are reading into my comments what you want to read into them; because you simply cannot abandon that 'grey' socialist world in which you live.

    What I said was that 'all' 'good and faithful' Muslims are the 'danger' to freedom in 'all' its varieties. The reason is that the Qur'an and the Hadiths are the core foundational anchor for 'all' the 'good and faithful' Muslims.

    There are millions of Muslims who do not fall into the category of 'good and faithful'; ie, that they reject the qur'anic and haditithic calls for 'all' 'good and faithful' Muslims to murder non-Muslims if they don't convert to Islam, and/or for calls from the sacred texts of Islam for 'all' Apostates to be murdered.

    Further, I note with no little humour, at your definition of the hundreds of thousands of Parisian Muslims stoning police, shooting at police, beating police, throwing molotov cocktails at police, AND quite literally shutting down entire sections of Paris for prayers, as a 'radical element'.

    My dear fellow, just when in your definition does an 'element' become recognized as a 'significant' or even 'majority' portion of the population?

    Yet again, just how many examples of such thuggish, violent, and criminal acts, does it take in your 'grey' world, before you are forced to abandon your preconceived socialist views and recognize the danger for what it truly is?

    Polls done by Muslim polling agencies, Western agencies hired by Muslim groups, prove that the MAJORITY of Muslims in the world SUPPORT EITHER the goals of Jihadists and/or at least 1/3 of Muslims support the TACTICS of the Jihadists.

    Take a look at the numbers of Muslims in the world (according to Islamic sources, that would be 1.7 Billion) and then do the basic math for 33% and tell me if that number falls within your 'element' definition or if it is recognized for what it is: a majority agree with the Islamization of the entire world and fully 1/3 support the bombings, beheadings, murders via whatever means.

    What amount of evidence from verifiable sources (many of which are themselves Muslim) does/will it take before you put aside your preconceived ideas and accept the evidence as it exists?

    Supporting a person's native land, native culture, and the right to live under the Rule of Law rather than either la Mordida or Sharia, is not bigotry: it is patriotism and historically supported.

    Just because the French want all foreign nationals in their country living there as new citizens to learn the French language, this is not bigotry or oppression: the country IS France, is it not?

    Same goes for Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Great Britain, etc.: foreign nationals (from wherever they come) MUST be expected to learn the language and culture of the host country and to live by the laws of those countries.

    Same rights and laws for 'all'.

    If this point of view is 'bigotry' then by all means, call me a 'bigot'.

  • CW posted:

    on 29th November 2010, 12:06:26 - Reply

    I do see the world for what it is -- in shades of grey and not black and white. I avoid nothing because as soon as the argument turns from discussing the militant element to just Muslims in general, there is nothing to discuss. No group of people are ALL the same. Impossible. If you insist on painting every single Muslim or Mexican with the same brush, then you are a bigot. And a lazy thinker, which is sad considering your education. Most Muslims are too busy doing what the rest of us do...just getting by, making a living and raising a family.

    I never said there isn't a radical element that must be addressed. I just say stop demonizing an entire group of people who have done nothing. I lived in a predominantly Muslim (and very peaceful) neighbourhood. I've had and have Muslim colleagues. Most are just people, as good and as flawed as the rest of us.

    You don't want honest debate...you want agreement. You won't get it from me. Or from any person I know.
  • JR Bailey posted:

    on 28th November 2010, 09:03:14 - Reply

    Hey CW,

    Firstly, I'm a trained Historian: modern African/modern Russian-Soviet history for my BA, and Modern German Military history for my Master's Program work.

    Secondly, allow me to answer your question:

    "Why don't they have a right to leave to seek a better life the same as your ancestors?"

    My response:

    Their right to leave is predicated upon whatever laws the Authority of their native country has/had: neither my ancestors (some of whom were Native American thank you) nor any modern European or American Govts. have any real input on whether or not foreign nationals can leave the countries of their birth.

    Secondly, no one is saying they can't 'seek a better life' what we are saying is that Muslims are verifiably NOT doing what my German and Irish ancestors did when they came to America: Muslims are NOT integrating into the cultures and political systems of their new host countries.

    What Muslims ARE doing is to separate themselves into Muslim enclaves, continue in the very types of systematic oppression and Sharia Laws which their native governments used to oppress them, and the DEMAND that the new Host Countries allow them to Special Rights (beating of wives under Sharia Law is a great example, or as in France, where droves of Muslims daily violate civil law by literally taking over entire streets and intersections in Paris for 'daily prayers') from Civil and Criminal Laws.

    Thirdly, we here opposing views which people such as yourself hold, are NOT "bigots": that is just a pro-Muslims/politically correct stratagem to AVOID actually having to address REAL WORLD FACTS about Muslim actions in every city in which they have a large population (Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Mälmo, Stockholmd, etc.).

    Parisian police can't even go into Muslim sections of Paris without entering in military format: they are shot at, beaten, knifed, etc.

    Same for quite a few other European cities; including Mälmo, Sweden.

    Despite your Rose Colored Glass view of these issues, empirical evidence amidst the Real World Facts prove you are wrong in your vast generalizations about what is ongoing and in what Muslims are trying to do in both Europe and America.

    I would suggest you take the time to open your eyes, stop calling people bigots to avoid actually engaging in honest debate, and see the world as it is, not as you want it to be.

  • CW posted:

    on 26th November 2010, 15:39:01 - Reply

    The bigots replying here scare me more than any Muslim. The only difference between the immigrants a century ago and now is that more are now deemed "illegal". That is all. They are the same your grandparents and great grandparents the same people trying to build a new life against all odds...only the odds, and the laws, make it much more harder.

    Why don't they have a right to leave to seek a better life the same as your ancestors? Just because an arbitrary, politically motivated law says 'no'? Believe it or not, your ancestors were just as hated as the immigrants are now...only the government now sanctions that hate.

    Read a history book. Learn something. It's amazing how knowledge can dispel fear and paranoia.
  • JR Bailey posted:

    on 17th November 2010, 23:08:49 - Reply

    Hey Barb,

    Yeah, like you I miss Europe and Deutschland in particular; my time there and during the years after were truly amazing!!!!

    I must say though that there is no way shy of a gun to my head (and even then I'd STILL have to think about it) that I'd consider moving to Kaliforrnia!

    To me, it would be like living in Hell. Mind you, I live in Wyoming, which means pretty close to Heaven, literally in the Oil Patch and I have Pronghorn antelope literally walking down the two streets of our town, as well as Open Range Moos voluntarily fertilizing my garden area in the late Fall/Early Winter.

    Illegal Aliens are severe blight, a REAL danger to all Americans and they are killing our fellow citizens, our police officers, our neighbors, and even our family members across the country, to the tune of 6,000-8,000 per year.

    In your state of CA, the LA Times, a Social Progressive bastion of promoting SP poliices, politics, and agendas, did a report about the CA Penal System and the costs of it.

    The LA Times found that 1 of every 3 Convicts in the CA Penal System are Illegal Aliens, incarcerated for violent crimes.

    Were I you, I'd sell my house, grab my hubby and head back to Niederland. Were I not such a 2nd Amendment supporter, I'd move to Germany or Finland in a heartbeat!

    Oh how I do miss my friends/family there. Man, now I'm 'homesick' for Germany. Sigh.

  • JR Bailey posted:

    on 17th November 2010, 23:01:28 - Reply

    Hey there LJK,

    Your personal experience, which are VERY limited, are not supported by either the Qur'an or the Hadith. I've studied Islam for several years now and know that contextually, verbatim, my statements are accurate: Musliims are commanded to NOT be 'true friends' with non-Muslims.

    I'm not asking you to take my word for it, just google Berkeley Project on Islam, or Religion of Peace, and both sites offer VERBATIM citations of the passages, IN CONTEXT, concerning my points. Berkeley University is a Far Left Academic institution and Religion of Peace is a conservative website, but BOTH offer verbatim sourcing and the RoP site actually links to the Berkeley Uni Project for both the Qur'an and Hadith citations.

    Further, no one wearing high heels is going to tell you to obey Sharia Law, or tell you to wear a burqa, nor tell you that it's ok for your husband to beat you, nor tell you that you're only half the worth of a man.

    Islam DOES command/teach all of those things and the sooner your research these facts for yourself, the better off you'll be.

    I must say that I do envy you though: I miss Niederland and Deutschland very much and were I financially and physically able to return, I would do so in a half a heartbeat!

    I couldn't live the rest of my life there, as I'm a staunch gun owner and carry one when I go to town, but I would be happy living there a few months out of every year!!!!!!

    My fave places in Niederland are Arnhem and Haarlam: both towns are wonderful; ach die Butterkeks und Käse im Sommer gefällt mir ja!

    The Buddhist shouldn't have any problems with you, but in Nepal and Bhutan, they are threatening Christians with death.

  • Barbara posted:

    on 17th November 2010, 18:17:05 - Reply

    I lived in Holland from 1997-2006. I learned the language (at age 60), learned the cultures and traditions and met many Dutch residents who are still my friends. None of this was easy, due to my age and the difficulty of the language and poor teaching of same. But I went to live there with a new husband, who was Dutch and loving him, loved to learn about his way of life and his country. None of what I learned was 'crap', as LJK calls it. It is just a way of life for a country, just as the USA has cultures and traditions. I now have to accept undocumented Mexicans in my home state of California....this is difficult, because they do not immigrate as I did or as my husband did when moving to California. They simply come over the border illegally, and then get angry with us if we do not provide schooling, medical care and learn Spanish. Just as I adapted to my new country, The Netherlands, I would have hoped that Mexicans who want to live in USA, would do it the way it is done in Holland. Learn the language, do the paperwork, and contribute to your new country. So, for anyone thinking it is so horrible in Holland, move to California, Az, or Texas, and see what it is really like when immigrants don't take the responsibility to become a part of the new country one lives in. I did not expect Holland to cater to me, after all, I moved to their country as a guest. Enjoy it, take the good with the bad, and soak up Europe. Make life an experience, as you only get one chance at it.
  • LJK posted:

    on 17th November 2010, 16:53:46 - Reply

    I came to this country to live with my Dutch husband. He told me as an American I would not be required to learn Dutch and everyone here speaks English anyhow.Had I know this wasn't the case I wouldn't have come here. I was not seeing asylum or needing a hand out of any kind. My husband can support us just fine. I'm glad I learned the language but the crap we had to learn about how to react when your neighbor has a baby, etc was just a waste of time.

    BTW The muslim comment is also not true. I am a Christian. I am friends with 2 Muslim women and 1 Buddist woman. NONE of them have a problem with differing views on religion (and I'm actually slowly becoming an atheist it seems...). Just as all muslims are not terrorists blowing up buildings, not all muslims shut out those who don't share their beliefs. We don't even discuss religion much. We have more important things to discuss.. like OMG what is up with the bitchy dutch women in their high heeled boots?! :P
  • JR Bailey posted:

    on 17th November 2010, 16:41:13 - Reply

    Hey folks,

    I lived and studied German language, culture, and history 'next door' to y'all, in Düsseldorf, Deutschland, back in '94-'96.

    I traveled to Germany again and again, after that time period, to see dear friends, bekannter, usw., and guess what, I STILL retain a 'conversational' level of German language skills!

    Even though I live in the middle of Wyoming, USA, we actually have a Stammtisch every week on Thursdays for German language speakers.

    My point is this: the Muslim woman was held 'hostage' by Dutch govt. and culture for 13 years because a Govt. PAID program didn't exist?

    Horse manure!!!

    I integrated into German culture/language by ACCEPTING German culture/language as I found IT, making myself ADAPT TO German culture/language.

    I learned the German language lickety split, because I was IIMMERSED in it! The problem the Muslims are having is that they VOLUNTARILY remain in ISOLATED linguistic-cultural enclaves and are NOT willing to adapt themselves to Dutch culture and langauge.

    Why do they choose to remain isolated unless FORCED to go outside the encalves? Because Islam commands that Muslims cannot be friends with non-Muslims and should not in fact associate with non-Muslims.

    Read it for yourselves in both the Qur'an and the Hadiths!

    Lastly, the article is so anti-VVD and anti-Dutch native culture that it is sickening. Foreign nationals are not children: we choose to move to host countries for whatever reasons and therefore it is incumbent UPON US to ADAPT to the new host country.

    It is NOT the responsibility of the host country and taxpaying citizens to pay for foreign nationals language requirements.

    My fellow American with the Dutch husband has run into the sheer IDIOCY of Socialist Bureauracy: which has no basis in reality, just rules that make no sense most of the time.

  • lightdancer posted:

    on 17th November 2010, 15:15:46 - Reply

    To LJK: I didn't think it could get worse than my situation. Now, I see I have really nothing to complain about.

    My comment:

    I wonder if the costs they quote reflect the expense involved in running the administration of the tests, the schools and the overseeing of immigrant work status with little left over to spend on the actual educational process. Students in the state sponsored courses, see no evidence of such expenditures. The quality of the environment and the learning tools provided in the classes is extremely poor.

    The distance between what is expected of the student and what is offered by the school/government is so great, it makes Holland look bad.
    This is at cross-purpose for both Holland and the immigrant. The need is great for change in the program but not just in terms of increasing the load for the immigrant students. There is a management issue as well.
  • LJK posted:

    on 17th November 2010, 13:15:45 - Reply

    I came here to NL in 2001. I took the integration and language classes from 2002-2003. I did not have to pay for them. I'm an American and I WAS required by law to take the courses. I passed everything just fine by the end of March, 2003. I received my diploma in the mail shortly after. Explain to me why then that 7 years later.. in the summer of 2010 I was called in to have my dutch questioned? I held the interview in my best Dutch and was told I spoke it well. I was then told I had to go to Einhoven at my own expense to PAY for myself another test to allow me to stay. I passed this all 7 yrs ago. How can they do this to me? Obviously I will pass the lady said but I still had to jump through another hoop.

    This is all nonsense. This article isn't even accurate as I was FORCED into those courses in the summer of 2002 (so it was def. before 2007!!).

    I'm now debating about applying for a Dutch passport. I'm told an American can have both now and I'm tired of being treated like a criminal and having to pay every 5 yrs for a new residence permit, on and on.

    My husband and children are dutch. I speak Dutch, and have integrated in the 9 yrs I've lived here. LEAVE US ALONE.
  • PJ posted:

    on 16th November 2010, 18:50:05 - Reply

    I have being here since 2007 and as a native English speaker, well it is hard to be part of this culture . When I really try to speak Dutch and to learn the language I always get answers in English. Now I am in the Inburgeringscursus and find that the government is thowing good money at a poorly run program. It is not structured and is more of a self taught system with making it manditory for attendence. Changes need to be made in the program, making it more cost effective. More government oversight would be better with a better structure to the program! Make sure everyone gets what is needed from the program. The tax payer, the students, and then we all win!!!!