CDA opposes minister’s refugee eviction policy
18 December 2003
AMSTERDAM — Opposition to the Cabinet’s refugee policy sharpened overnight as MPs of the governing coalition Christian Democrat CDA party publicly backed municipalities willing to prevent the evictions of rejected asylum seekers from special holding centres.
The CDA of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende joined its minority coalition partner Democrat D66 in supporting the continued offer of emergency shelter to rejected asylum seekers, placing both parties diametrically opposed to the policy of Liberal VVD Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk.
About 2000 asylum seekers — who have been in the Netherlands for five years or more and are still awaiting a definite decision over their asylum request — are expected to hear this month that they will be granted a residence permit under a government amnesty plan.
But many others will also be notified before the end of the year that they do not stand a chance of gaining official residential status and will be required to leave the country immediately. Other refugees will be allowed to simply wait out their asylum application.
Minister Verdonk is requesting municipal authorities evict the rejected refugees from their special holding centres and claims that the asylum seekers have an own responsibility to return to their land of origin, public news service NOS said on Thursday.
Many of the asylum seekers have been living in the Netherlands for many years and no longer have a link with their homeland. Some of their young children do not even speak the language of their ancestral country. Local community opposition to the deportations has previously been reported.
And the four major Dutch cities — Amsterdam, Rotterdam The Hague and Utrecht — have publicly said they do not intend to throw the refugees out on the street. A large number of other municipal councils have also claimed an obligation to offer care and shelter to the refugees.
Despite backing the eviction plan last week, CDA MPs have since demanded that municipalities be allowed to offer emergency shelter until a clear and definite deportation policy is agreed upon. Minister Verdonk has said such a policy will not be forthcoming until January.
The CDA has thus thrown its weight behind a motion from the D66, giving rise to the chance that it will gain majority support in the Lower House of Parliament, the Tweede Kamer.
But it is not yet known if main opposition party PvdA will back the motion or demand further concessions for the nation’s asylum seekers. The VVD is opposed to the motion and remains resolute in its support for Minister Verdonk.
The Netherlands has moved to clamp down on immigration and the number of asylum seekers entering the country in recent years.
Shortly before his May 2002 assassination, maverick politician Pim Fortuyn claimed the Netherlands was “too full”, a comment which sparked a flurry of debate across the nation. But his strong stance made it publicly acceptable to question immigration, asylum and integration policies in the Netherlands.
[Copyright Expatica News 2003]
Subject: Dutch news