Cabinet softens policy on asylum-seeking children and family reunification
The Cabinet is adjusting the policy on family reunification regarding asylum seekers who are unaccompanied minor children. Caretaker State Secretary Ankie Broekers-Knol, who handles asylum issues at the Ministry of Security and Justice, notified the Tweede Kramer about the decision on Tuesday in response to a request for clarification about the matter.
NRC reported on Monday that the rules on family reunification were changed at the end of last year without the lower house of Parliament being informed. It was decided that asylum-seeking children would no longer automatically be entitled to family reunification residency rights if they were taken in by an immediate or distant relative residing in the Netherlands, according to the newspaper. Political parties CDA, ChristenUnie, D66 and GroenLinks, among others, subsequently demanded clarification.
Research shows that there are 207 such cases. "The scope of the case histories appears to be considerably larger than initially thought," said the State Secretary. In addition, it is a diverse group where "a more individual assessment of the applications is in order".
Asylum-seeking children who were already rejected for family reunification may still submit an application to IND, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She wrote that IND will review applications for family reunification in cases where someone was unable to claim the residency rights after the policy change. This will be done “where necessary.”
According to Broekers-Knol, IND decided in 2019 for the first time not to grant a request for family reunification from an unaccompanied minor seeking asylum. A judge approved this decision.
After that, this method was generally used within the IND. Last autumn, the NIDOS foundation, which focuses on unaccompanied minors, asked the IND for an explanation about the way in which the service applied the term “unaccompanied.”
Broekers-Knol was informed in March. In response to that memorandum, it decided to take stock of the situation, but also kept in place the existing working method of the IND. The minister received details this week, and has subsequently decided that the working method of the IND regarding asylum-seeking children and family reunification may no longer be applied by default.
The Netherlands Council for Refugees is relieved about the adjustment. According to the organization, the measure was in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Tweede Kamer was also not informed.
"An absurd method", says the Council for Refugees.
Reporting by ANP.