Expatica news

Immigration Minister admitted to hospital

27 January 2004

AMSTERDAM — Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk was admitted to the Bronovo Hospital in The Hague on Tuesday after complaining of feeling unwell.

The Justice Ministry, which includes the immigration ministerial portfolio, said the 48-year-old Verdonk started feeling ill on Monday afternoon. It is expected that she will soon resume her duties.

The minister has been under intense pressure lately and unveiled her plans last week to grant a residence permit to about 2,300 asylum seekers under an amnesty scheme designed to clear a backlog of cases in the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND).

Those who matched the strict criteria for a residence permit were asylum seekers who have been in the Netherlands for five years or more and were still awaiting a definite decision over their asylum request.

But the government has also agreed to deport 26,000 rejected asylum seekers over a three-year period and city councils and the Council of Churches have since raised strong concerns that rejected refugees who cannot return home, will end up on the street.

The councils have warned they might continue to provide shelter to such refugees, breaching government contracts.

Immigration is a hot topic in the Netherlands at the moment and besides a toughening of legislation a couple of years ago to restrict the flow of asylum seekers into the country, the Dutch government is also trying to restrict arrival of other foreigners such as Turkish and Moroccan brides who arrive in the country via the family unification migration scheme.

Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner will assume Minister Verdonk’s tasks until she is well enough to return to work.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news