VVD wants to restrict Antillean immigration

THE HAGUE--The liberal democratic VVD party is preparing a law proposal to restrict immigration to The Netherlands by residents of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten.

Under VVD's law initiative, people from the islands with insufficient education, those who do not have command of the Dutch language and persons with criminal records no longer would be allowed to register.
 
The proposal doesn't seem to have much support. VVD's coalition partner the Christian Democratic Party CDA is not eager to support a law initiative that would cut through the plans to realise the Kingdom Law on the Movement of People (Rijkswet Personenverkeer). This latter law is part of the VVD-CDA governing accord.
 
The Party for Freedom PVV, which supports the Dutch cabinet, will back VVD's law initiative only if it is tied to an arrangement to send criminal Antilleans living in The Netherlands back to the islands. The largest opposition party, the Labour Party PvdA, is squarely against VVD's proposal.
 
VVD argued in a press release that Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten have legislation that regulates the admittance of Dutch European citizens, but for the other way around there are "insufficient immigration requirements."
 
"VVD will come with a law initiative that will close this legislative gap. The law will regulate a restriction of possibilities of settling in The Netherlands for residents of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten," the party stated in a release on Friday.
 
Travel options will remain in place, but at the moment people want to register in a Dutch European municipality they will have to comply with a number of requirements such as having sufficient income and education, sufficiently mastering the Dutch language and not having a criminal record.
 
For people from the islands who don't meet these requirements, it not only will become impossible to register in a municipality, but they also will be refused social housing or social welfare.
 
According to VVD, the law would prevent uneducated, deprived people from getting in trouble in the Netherlands. "People from the former Netherlands Antilles score high in criminal, school dropout and unemployment statistics.
 
"The Netherlands must have possibilities to obstruct this group from coming to live here. The proposed measures would end the idea that The Netherlands is the automatic backup for all problems on the islands. It puts pressure on the autonomous countries to invest in education for this group and to motivate them to work," stated VVD.
 
VVD contended that one-third of the populations of Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten lived in The Netherlands. For Curaçao this percentage is even higher: 45 per cent of the Curaçao community lives in The Netherlands. In 2011, there were 141,345 persons of Antillean and Aruban descent in The Netherlands, an increase of 32 per cent compared to the year 2000.
 
VVD leader in the Dutch Parliament's Second Chamber Stef Blok said his party had decided to come with this law initiative because the Kingdom Law on the Movement of People wasn't getting off the ground. The Dutch Caribbean countries are not cooperating with this law proposal, argued Blok. "That leaves me no choice other than to apply the same rules as the islands," he said.
 
Blok said he was counting on the support of a majority in the Dutch Parliament. However, coalition partner CDA has already distanced itself from the pending law initiative. CDA Member of Parliament (MP) Mirjam Sterk said she would rather wait on a proposal of the cabinet. Sterk called the initiative "surprising" and "premature."
 
MP Bas Jan van Bochove (CDA) referred to the VVD proposal as "remarkable." He pointed out that Kingdom partners had decided during the December 14, 2011, Kingdom Conference, to install a work group that would look into the matter of the Kingdom Law on the Movement of People. He wondered if it was "wise to thwart" this.
 
MP Eric Lucassen said in an invited comment that he was "surprised" by VVD's initiative. In his opinion, the VVD proposal didn't go far enough. He said PVV would back VVD only if that party supported PVV's proposal to repatriate criminal Antilleans.
 
VVD's plan will be counterproductive, said MP Martijn van Dam (PvdA). He said it was impossible to stop youngsters with or without education from moving to The Netherlands.
 
"Once in The Netherlands they can't register, so they will end up in an illegal circuit and we will lose grip on them. We will not be able to help them. For us there is only one solution to this issue and that is to provide prospects for these youngsters on the islands and to prepare them as best possible before they come to The Netherlands," said Van Dam.
 
The Antillean/Aruban organisation OCaN objected to the VVD proposal as well. "I find it intriguing to hear Stef Blok speak about the principle of equality. The immigration regulations for European Dutch citizens, which actually were instituted by The Netherlands, aim to protect the islands' small economies," OCaN Chairman Glenn Helberg told Radio Netherlands.
 
According to Helberg, VVD was showing repetitive behaviour. "This has been said for many years. Legally this law initiative is impossible. It is symbolic politics," he said, noting that on the municipality level, there already were requirements for Antilleans and Arubans who want to register.

3 February 2012

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