Large Dutch cities worried about refugees stuck in old naturalization system
Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, and The Hague are very concerned about a group of at least 11,000 refugees who will have to integrate in the coming years. A new integration system will be implemented on January 1, but everyone who got a residency permit before that date will have to integrate in the old, failing system. And that is unfair, the cities wrote in a letter to responsible State Secretary Dennis Wiersma, Trouw reports.
The old integration system was labeled "failing" in 2018 already when the National Ombudsman and others said that the government was making it harder for integrators to find their place in Dutch society instead of easier. The new system was scheduled to take effect in 2020, but the introduction was postponed three times.
The delay means that thousands of refugees will struggle in the failing system in the coming years. "Then one refugee may integrate well, and his neighbor who happened to receive a residency permit earlier must still manage in the old system. We think that is unjust and absolutely inexplicable," Amsterdam alderman Marjolein Moorman said. The municipalities did receive money to help this group, they said in their letter. "But we continue to have to deal with the limitations of the current system."
The Netherlands' four largest cities propose that all people who have already received a residency permit but don't have a home yet and still live in an asylum center be allowed to integrate under the new system. That is a large group because due to the housing shortage in the Netherlands, around 11,000 refugees are stuck living in asylum centers, according to Trouw.
"I think that from the point of fairness, you should, in any case, grant as many people as possible good integration. But it is also smart from a financial point of view. We've seen in recent years that people got into deep trouble because of the integration system, and once you're in trouble, it is very difficult to get out of it. People struggle with debts, get social assistance, have mental health problems. That ultimately costs society money."