Allow labor migrants from Africa to help fight labor shortages, people smuggling, ruling party says

The D66 wants to temporarily bring migrants from African countries to work in the Netherlands. According to the coalition party, this can help fill shortages on the labor market. And if there is a legal route to follow, migrant workers can come to the Netherlands without risking their lives by crossing the Mediterranean Sea in the "floating coffins" of people smugglers, D66 parliamentarian Maarten Groothuizen proposed, AD and NOS report.

The parliamentarian wants to put a four-year limit on the "temporary labor migration", after which the migrant workers must return to their home country. According to him, four years is long enough for employers to recoup the investment they made, but at the same time not long enough for workers to become fully rooted in the Netherlands. "A clear end date offers labor migrants perspective," Groothuizen said.

Returning will also be in the best interest of the migrant workers' home country, which can then make good use of the knowledge and skills learnt while in the Netherlands, Groothuizen stressed. He wants to make agreements with African countries on cooperating in the return of their labor migrants. And to make return more attractive for the workers themselves, the D66 want to pay out the pension and other rights that the worker built up after the four years period is done - possibly in their home country, to encourage return even more. If a country does not cooperate, the Netherlands can admit fewer labor migrants from that country, he said. 

According to the D66, "conservative politicians fall over each other in spreading images of fear about migration, without coming up with solutions." The Netherlands is desperate for temporary workers, Groothuizen said. "There are currently 264 thousand open vacancies that are not filled by Dutch people."

The party also pointed out that the European Commission has called on Member States to sign up for experiments with temporary visas for labor migrants. Groothuizen called on the government to join the number of countries who have already signed up. 

The D66 proposal can not count on support from its more conservative coalition partners. VVD parliamentarian Bente Becker called the plan "naive and unworldly" on Twitter. She said that the illegal influx of migrants must first be stopped, failed asylum seekers must be returned to their home countries, and people on welfare must be guided back to the labor market.

The CDA is also critical. MP Madeleine van Toorenburg said she'd rather see "no influx from Africa this way, as long as we do not oversee the consequences of immigration and return remains the Achilles heel." She added that there are countless people in the Netherlands looking for work and African can use its own talent. 

Opposition party PVV was also obviously against the proposal. The nationalist party leader Geert Wilders called it "crazy and dangerous", saying that the African people the D66 wants to bring to the Netherlands will never leave. "Let's send all those crazy D66'ers to Africa!" He said on Twitter. 

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