VVD: Limit asylum seeker rights; D66: let them integrate & work

Refugees at the Lebanon-Syria border (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock). (Child asylum seekers (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/H. Murdock))

The VVD wants to encourage asylum seekers to go back to their own regions by sobering the shelter in the Netherlands with limited social services. The D66, on the other hand, wants the government to allocate extra money to help refugees learn Dutch as quickly as possible so that they can start working and properly integrate into Dutch society.

VVD leader Halbe Zijlstra announced his parties plans for refugees on Saturday, NRC reports. In his note he writes that the large number of refugees coming to the Netherlands means that "the end of the strength of our society is in sight". The VVD therefore wants refugees to return to their own region as soon as possible. And the party wants to achieve this by limiting their social services and sobering shelter in the Netherlands. According to Zijlstra, the Netherlands must be made "unattractive" for refugees.

The D66's action plan is diametrically opposed to the VVD's proposals. Addressing proper shelter is the most urgent problem, according to the party. "Asylum shelter is already pretty sober", said D66 parliamentarian Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, who drew up the D66 action plan, according to NRC. "In a country like the Netherlands, no one should be sleeping on the streets." The D66 wants the government to quickly use more vacant government buildings, such as barracks, as asylum centers. "Our society is strong enough to cope with the numbers of asylum seekers." The D66 also believes that if asylum seekers are able to enter the labor market faster, they will make a bigger and faster contribution to society.

In an interview with newspaper AD on Saturday, Zijlstra stated that asylum seekers with a temporary residence permit should only be allowed medically necessary procedures. "But plastic surgery, eyelid surgery, breast reductions or -enlargements, complete tooth renovations. Those kinds of things: definitely not", the VVD leader said. After sharp criticism from opposition parties D66 and GroenLinks, he decided to retract the statement, NU reports. In a video posted online by the VVD on Saturday night he said: "That was just a mistake on my part." According to Zijlstra, plastic surgery will be reimbursed for refugees with war injuries, but it is not intended for breast enlargements, for example.