More questions than answers in asylum debate; Plan a work-in-progress
The VVD does not exclude the possibility of making changes to the failed asylum seekers plan, after the Mayors' dissatisfied response to the plan and parliamentary debate. The cabinet, a coalition of the leftist PvdA labour party and the conservative VVD, is still negotiating about the implementations of the agreements with the municipalities involved.
Several opposition parties found it strange that the government wants temporary shelter for the failed asylum seekers only in Amsterdam,Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Eindhoven. VVD leader Halbe Zijlstra is happy with the agreement he signed with his coalition partner saying that there is a reason why these cities are on the agreement. Even though he thinks those cities provide a good shelter distribution throughout the country, he is still willing to leave room for negotiation.
PvdA leader Diederik Samsom did not commit to the previous number of shelters, stating that if more shelters and space are needed, his party will support it.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rutte said Thursday that the agreement was a big step towards a solution. He also acknowledges that the Netherlands has struggled with the asylum seeker question for twenty years, so a perfect solution was unlikely to be found in a two-week cabinet negotiation.
"Some problems are so difficult that they take more time," was Rutte's answer to CDA leader Sybrand Buma's argument. Buma said this was the second time the coalition government teetered on collapsing over a single issue, questioning the Cabinet's stability.
Deputy Prime Minister Lodewijk Asscher added that the government has six months to work out an agreement with the municipalities.
Opposition party members also hit out at the government's lack of transparency over the agreement's finer points, with no coalition member confirming the number of weeks a failed asylum seeker will be allowed to stay in a shelter before deportation.
The current shelters for food, showers and sleeping arrangements, or bed-bath-bread shelters, are to be closed. The administrative agreement states that no municipality may provide structural shelter to undocumented immigrants, but many still say they will regardless of the cabinet agreement.
When not adhering to the agreement, they risk getting fined, but no cabinet party member would go into detail about the fines on Thursday.