Justice Sec. denounces idea to refuse “low-skilled” refugees

Klaas Dijkhoff (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)Klaas Dijkhoff (Photo: Rijksoverheid.nl/Wikimedia Commons)

State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff of Security and Justice is very much against VNO NCW chairman Hans de Boer's idea of only accepting asylum seekers if they have a chance of getting a job. Asylum seekers should not be used as a "labor market instrument", he believes, but that does not mean that they can not earn their keep. 

According to Dijkhoff, asylum seekers are taken in because they are fleeing from a war zone, and not because of what they can do. "And I believe that a bomb makes no distinction between high and low skilled", he said to broadcaster NOS. Dijkhoff added that the Netherlands does bring people in to benefit the economy, but those are not asylum seekers. He does not want a child asylum seeker's fate resting on "if daddy can do something".

Dijkhoff believes that the Netherlands should still make the best of it, and should get asylum seekers to work as soon as possible, so they "can give something back", he said to NOS.

In a letter distributed to asylum seekers earlier this month, Dijkhoff also warns them that they may have to earn their keep, by making a personal contribution to their cost of care. "If you have your own capital or income, you are obliged to report this. It is possible that you will be required to make a contribution to the costs of your reception (and that of your family)", Dijkhoff wrote.

The aim of the letter is to inform asylum seekers about what is going on and to give them a "realistic picture" of what to expect. In the letter Dijkhoff warns about the long waiting times, that it will take at least 7 months for the asylum procedure to start and that it can take up to 15 months before an asylum seeker gets an answer on whether or not he will be granted refugee status.

Dijkhoff also warns about the "austere" reception with limited amenities and the fact that asylum seekers may be transferred on several occasions to other reception centers. And if refugee status is granted and a residency permit is issued, it may take a long time before accommodation is assigned. "If accommodation is available, it may take the form of a container home or a converted office building. It is possible that you will have to spend a long time sharing accommodation with others."