Criminal immigrants rarely deported from Netherlands: report

Dutch judges rarely retract the residency permits of immigrants with a criminal record, despite a change in legislation in 2012 that makes it easier to do so, the Volkskrant reports.

In 2012 the government relaxed the rules for deporting foreign convicts who lived in the Netherlands for a long time. The Ministry of Security and Justice estimated that the changed law will result in 475 residency permits being withdrawn per year. But in practice it turned out to be much less, a spokesperson for the immigration and naturalization service IND said to the newspaper. Last year 80 people lost their residency permits due to a criminal record. The spokesperson emphasized that these are regular immigrants - not people with asylum status. 

The IND attributes this to judges setting stricter requirements on the argument to withdraw a residency permit since the law change. "You must in each individual case show that the measure is proportional and weigh it against the personal consequences for the immigrant, who sometimes lived in the Netherlands for many years and has family here", the IND spokesperson said to the newspaper. 

When determining whether a conviction affects a persons right to residency, the court weighs the gravity of the crime against the time the person lived in the Netherlands - the longer a person's been in the Netherlands, the more serious the crime must be to be deported, according to the newspaper. A 2015 ruling by the Council of State also plays a role. The ruling stated that it must be shown that the foreigner poses a "real and actual danger" before his residency permit can be withdrawn. 

Lawyers also said to the newspaper that they doubt whether withdrawing a residency permit for someone living in the Netherlands for years is a useful measure. In practice it often means that the immigrant disappears into the Netherlands as an undocumented migrant, and this increases the chance of recurrence. "It is therefore very questionable whether withdrawing the right to residency is making society safer", one lawyer said to the newspaper.