Netherlands criticized for inhumane treatment of immigrants and asylums seekers
Scientists from the Radboud University in Nijmegen determined that the strict interpretation of immigration rules by the Immigration and Naturalisation Services (IND) has often caused unfair treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers, the Trouw reported. The SCP, which provides socio-cultural policy advice based on scientific research argued that shortening the waiting period asylum seekers face in obtaining a decision, the more likely they are to quickly integrate into Dutch society.
There have been instances when people with a temporary residence permit are wrongly labeled as fraudsters. As a result, they have to repay all benefits received. In a worst-case scenario, they lose their residence permit and had to leave the country. This was concluded in research carried out by eight scientists at Radboud University in Nijmegen. The scientists also found that applications for family reunification were systematically refused.
They said that the process does not pay attention to the personal situation of the asylum seekers during the evaluation of their permission to live in the Netherlands. The researchers likened it to the ongoing childcare benefits scandal, in which a system of profiling falsely identified people of trying to scam the government out of undue payments. The people targeted were often part of an ethnically diverse family, or were holding dual-nationality. The determination that successive Cabinets acted with undue care and without regard for the people involved ultimately brought down Prime Minister Mark Rutte's third Cabinet.
The researchers also showed that in recent years, Parliament has approved legislation that eroded the legal position of migrants and refugees. One example is that asylum seekers are no longer entitled to a free legal assistance during their first interview with the IND. Immigration lawyers are also drawing attention to this issue. They compiled the book 'Unheard, Injustice in Immigration Law' with fifty examples of injustice towards migrants from their practice. The book will be presented to Parliament on Monday.
A new integration plan that will come into effect in 2022 is predicted to significantly shorten the waiting time for the decision on the asylum and visa seekers' status. According to the SCP, this will help with obtaining work and getting children to speak the language more quickly and more effectively.
The organization also argued that newcomers who experience fair treatment during the asylum and family reunification procedures are more likely to later identify strongly as Dutch citizens and have greater confidence in Dutch institutions later on.