Cities, towns fear asylum plan

Vluchtgarage protesters in Vondelpark 1
A group of asylum seekers hang out in Amsterdam's Vondelpark. April 15, 2015 (photo: Wij Zijn Hier / Facebook)A group of asylum seekers hang out in Amsterdam's Vondelpark. April 15, 2015 (photo: Wij Zijn Hier / Facebook)

A number of cities and towns in the Netherlands foresee major practical problems in the implementation of the coalition's new plan for failed asylum seekers.

Jan Paternotte, the D66 faction leader in Amsterdam, is concerned that many failed asylum seekers will flood Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven and Utrecht, with Ter Apel as the deportation center. A large number of them will still end up on the street after the limited shelter period. "That could lead to serious problems," he said to NOS.

Other opposition parties in the Amsterdam municipal council are also against the plan, Volkskrant reports. The SP is stunned. The group feels that the problems with the agreement are being "thrown over the fence to the five major cities." Along with the D66 and GroenLinks, the party is against asylum seekers being thrown onto the streets in Amsterdam. "How are we supposed to determine that someone can not go back? And what do we do with the most vulnerable?" D66 member Bas Paternotte wants to know. "This draws a line through the humanitarian limit. I hope Amsterdam opposes it."

Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb has concerns about the number of failed asylum seekers flooding to the six cities designated by the coalition, including his. "How will the numbers develop in the coming years? I can imagine that provisions will be made in the talks with the government that we will again review the agreements if it becomes much more," he said on TV program Pauw.

Mayor Jos Wienen of Katwijk said in TV program Nieuwsuur that he is happy that the coalition plans to talk with municipalities, but added that this should have happened much earlier, NOS reports. Wienen questions the duration of the shelter. "A number of weeks, that is very short if you know the problems. Our experience is that it has to last longer." He also stated that the "problem of the wandering foreigner" is not solved if the failed asylum seekers do not cooperate in the return to their own country. "Then we are still allowed to provide emergency shelter, but then you also have to talk about the cost."

GroenLinks alderman Henk Kok in Arnhem called the plan "a typical example" of "Hague thinking". "I have yet to see people going to settle in the cities, they often bond with their region," he said. He calls the solution unworkable. "We will continue with the reception, we can't stop."

D66 member Ton Schoor, an alderman and deputy mayor in Groningen, called the plan a bizarre compromise. "People still end up on the street and we are allowed to solve it." According to Schoor, his municipality will also continue taking failed asylum seekers in. "We stand for a humane solution, we will not walk away from that."

The asylum plan is not only being opposed by municipalities, but also by local branches of the PvdA. The PvdA in Utrecht said on twitter that nothing will change for them in sheltering failed asylum seekers. "We have been doing this humanely in Utrecht for years and that will remain so."  The PvdA in Nijmegen also said that nothing will change. "Our local position will not change. We continue to fight for quality care: Everyone deserves at least a bed, bath and bread."

This compromise that the VVD and PvdA have come up with after 9 days of crisis talks has received much criticism from the opposition.