Verdonk faces damages claim over IND delays
15 September 2004
AMSTERDAM — Thousands of new immigrants in Amsterdam cannot start their compulsory integration course because the Immigration and Naturalisation Service IND is late in issuing their residence permits due to a computer glitch.
Amsterdam City Council is fed up with the situation and is threatening to sue the Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk for hundreds of thousands of euros, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Wednesday.
Amsterdam Education and Integration Alderman Ahmed Aboutaleb has sent a letter to Verdonk complaining about the problem.
He claims there is “a serious disruption to the chain of integration, with distressing consequences for the involved foreigners and employees of the institutes that carry out the integration programme”.
Aboutaleb said that municipal help desks are being inundated by immigrants requesting information about the issuing of their residence documents and the start of their integration course.
But due to the fact that the residence permit has not been issued, the council cannot give them any information about integration and teachers cannot start the courses.
Staff at several integration help desks in Amsterdam now have insufficient work. Personnel with the integration desk of the Amsterdam population register have thus been given other tasks.
Aboutaleb has demanded that Minister Verdonk take adequate measures by 15 October or face a damages claim.
But the problems are not restricted to Amsterdam. It was revealed in July that nation-wide there are 59,000 residence permit applications lodged with the IND, 28,000 of which are delayed longer then the legally-permitted six months.
Minister Verdonk promised Parliament that 90 percent of the applications older than six months would be processed by the end of this year. The problem has been attributed to a computer problem after the foreign police transferred its responsibilities to the IND at the end of last year.
The immigration service has been under consideration criticism for some time and lawyers told MPs on Monday that IND staff are ignorant of their own procedures and their unwillingness to investigate case files leads to long delays in issuing residence permits.
Lawyers and other experts also told the Dutch parliamentary hearing that an increasingly negative attitude has pervaded the IND in recent years and the IND has been reduced to an organisation that is simply required to “obtain targets”.
And according to the chairman of the Dutch Association of Citizen Affairs, 10 percent of foreigners obtain an incorrect status in municipal administrations due to IND computer errors.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news