Gov't talks on children's pardon at a stalemate

Child and airplane
Child and airplane Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The coalition parties' talks on relaxing the children's pardon seems to be at a stalemate. After two meetings with State Secretary Mark Harbers of Justice and Security on Monday, the parliamentary leaders of the VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie still have not come to a solution. CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie want the rules on the deportation of child asylum seekers to be broadened, the VVD is refusing, NOS reports.

The children's pardon applies to children who have been living in the Netherlands for five or more years without a residency permit and have become rooted in Dutch society. According to Defense for Children, there are currently 400 such children living in the Netherlands. 

The problems started a week and a half ago, when the CDA announced that they believe more child asylum seekers and their parents should be eligible for a residency permit. The D66 and ChristenUnie support this, and with the help of opposition parties GroenLinks and PvdA, there is now a parliamentary majority for relaxing the rules for the children's pardon. According to the three coalition parties, the children's pardon as it now stands does not work in practice, and something has to change. In the meantime, no children should be deported from the Netherlands because of the risk that they might be allowed to stay under a new regulation. 

The VVD is against extending the children's pardon, pointing to the coalition agreement in which the four parties agreed that the children's pardon would stay as is. "The coalition agreement is a foothold", VVD leader Klaas Dijkhoff said on Monday morning, according to NOS. Prime Minister Mark Rutte, also VVD, called the issue "complicated". 

According to NOS, all four coalition parties have been so firm in their statements about extending or not extending the children's pardon that they can't back down now. On Wednesday the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, will have a debate on the children's pardon. If the government parties don't come to a solution before then, there's a risk that coalition parties may side with opposition parties instead of with the VVD, which may result in a government crisis.