Christian Democrats call for humane asylum policy

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Today’s Dutch Christian Democrat party conference has adopted a resolution calling for a “humane policy” towards unaccompanied underage asylum seekers. The motion was backed by 85 percent of the attending party members.

The motion comes two days after a prolonged and inconclusive parliamentary debate about the future of 18-year-old Angolan asylum seeker Mauro Manuel. On the eve of the conference, Immigration and Asylum Policy Minister Gerd Leers repeated that Manuel would have to return to Angola. The young man’s intended repatriation has angered many Christian Democrats and is strongly opposed by the opposition parties.

The resolution does not mention Manuel nor does it urge the immigration minister to reverse his decision. Many speakers at the party conference, however, did refer to Manuel’s case.

In a reaction, Leers said he did not regard the resolution as a statement on Manuel’s case. “Mauro is an individual case, that’s not what this conference is about”, Leers argued. He repeated that if Manuel applied for a student visa the ministry would evaluate his application swiftly.

Leers welcomed the appeal for a humane asylum policy focussed not on people’s misery but on their strength. Leers said he therefore considers the resolution as an endorsement of his policy.

The CDA parliamentary party is to decide on the matter on Tuesday, before a vote in parliament later that day. The outcome of a vote in the CDA parliamentary party is far from clear.

CDA MPs Ad Koppejan and Kathleen Ferrier, who fiercely opposed forming a minority cabinet supported in parliament by Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration Freedom Party, insist that Manuel ought to stay in the Netherlands.

The CDA, Mrs Ferrier notes, has created certain expectations for the young man and his foster parents and now should honour them. Koppejan says it is unthinkable that Manuel, who has grown up in Holland since he was ten, should be thrown out of the country and once again be severed from his family and friends.

CDA Deputy Chairman Maxime Verhagen has urged the parliamentary party to adopt a unified position on Tuesday.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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