Children's pardon agreement just too late for deported Armenian family

Child playing with toy airplane
Child playing with toy airplanePhoto: AlexLipa/DepositPhotos

The coalition parties agreeing on a more relaxed children's pardon for asylum children and their parents who are already rooted in the Netherlands, came just too late for the Grigoryan family. The Armenian family, including three kids aged 3, 5 and 8 years, were deported last week Monday, after they lived in the Netherlands for nine years. Their Dutch lawyer is now doing everything she can to get them back home, RTL Nieuws reports.

On Tuesday the government decided that the cases of the around 700 child asylum seekers who have been living in the Netherlands for a long time will all be reassessed under more relaxed rules. The expectation is that 90 percent of them, along with their parents, will be allowed to stay in the Netherlands. But once these cases have been handled, the children's pardon will be completely scrapped. And the Dutch immigration and naturalization service IND will get extra money to speed up the asylum procedure,  so that no new group of asylum children can become rooted in the Netherlands with no hope of staying.

All this happened too late for the Grigoryan family. "That hurts", father Hovik said to RTL Nieuws from Armenia. "We now live in Yerevan. In a small apartment. All five of us are sleeping on mattresses on the floor. It is cold and we have nothing. The children are not doing well. They don't speak the language. They miss the Netherlands, their home." 

All three of the children were born in the Netherlands. Daughter Sushan, 8, was hit by a truck on the grounds of the asylum center in Den Helder two years ago, where the family was living at the time. "My children don't know the language here and my daughter does not get the right care in Armenia. That is why we want to go back to the Netherlands", Hovik said.

Dutch lawyer Mary Grigorjan is doing everything she can to get the family back to the Netherlands. "It is incredibly sour that the agreement comes a week and a half after the deportation of this family. The family is certainly eligible for a residency permit", the lawyer said to RTL. According to her, the family never lived illegally in the Netherlands. "They were under supervision for nine years. Under the new rules they would definitely be allowed to stay. That the new rules came just too late is hard for them."

The lawyer will see what she can do to make a new application for the family to come back. "I am very happy with the agreement and I am now going to do my best to bring this family back to the Netherlands. They belong here."

The Grigoryan family is the only family that was deported since the CDA decided to switch sides and support a more generous children's pardon. The family was deported despite calls from various parliamentarians to stop deporting children while a new agreement was being discussed. The actual chance that they will be allowed to return, is hard to judge.