Deporting settled children irresponsible, expert says

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Child asylum seeker (Photo: Staff Sgt. Chris Fahey/Wikimedia Commons). (Child asylum seeker (Photo: Staff Sgt. Chris Fahey/Wikimedia Commons))

A number of Dutch scientists are concerned about the well-being of children who are deported from the Netherlands after living here for years. The deportation of these children can have major consequences for their brain development and is therefore irresponsible, Erik Scherder, professor of clinical neuropsychology at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, said in a report written with two lecturers from the University of Groningen.

The professors did not do new research, but gave an overview of existing studies in their report. "The chronic stress to which children are exposed can impair their brain functions in such a way that the chance that they will recover from this damage and adapt to the living conditions in their country of origin is very small", the report states. "All this makes the deporting of these long-term child residents of the Netherlands, according to the current scientific insights, irresponsible."

The authors refer to the case of Howick and Lili, two Armenian children who were about to be deported after living in the Netherlands for 10 years. They were granted a pardon at the last moment. Their mother was deported without them last year. Another 400 children in the Netherlands, who have been living here for five years or longer, face the same situation. They do not qualify for the so-called children's pardon and can therefore be deported.

The report was signed by 38 professors and three professional associations - the Dutch Institute of Psychologists, the Dutch Association of Pedagogues and Educationalists, and Youth Physicians Netherlands. They call on politicians to use the insights from the report "for scientifically based decision making."

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