Dutch immigration office criticized for inhumane, overly strict culture
The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) has lost all sense of humanity and focuses solely on too strict and unrealistic policy rules when deciding on residency permits, current and former employees of the service and immigration lawyers told Pointer. As a result, asylum seekers and other migrants sometimes live in uncertainty for years.
Employees and former employees told Pointer that the IND has an organizational structure focused only on policy rules and internal work instructions. They have little room to deviate from these instructions when deciding on residency permits, even if it is clear that they're causing distressing situations for the people applying. "I just see around me that only the yes-men are becoming managers. People who have a big mouth or disagree with something are sidetracked and worked out," one said.
Immigration lawyers compared the situation at IND with the childcare allowance scandal, saying they see the Tax Authority's institutional mistrust in the IND. The IND starts off by not believing asylum seekers and other migrants and sets impossible requirements for obtaining a residency permit, they said to Pointer. "The result is that ordinary people are in a lot of trouble," immigration lawyer Barbara Wegeling said to the program.
Wegeling and other lawyers compiled a collection of accounts from migrants living in uncertainty for years, waiting for the IND to decide on their residency permit. The collection, titled "Unheard injustice in aliens law" translated from Dutch, also includes accounts of parents and children being separated for years or people sent back to their country of origin despite illness or acute danger.
Jan Willem Schaper, IND director of legal affairs, acknowledged to Pointer that the service is struggling with capacity shortages and an organizational culture that sometimes loses sight of the human dimension when implementing immigration policy. He said that employees work under tremendous time pressure, and there is a systemic approach, which sometimes gives them little space to pay attention to people's individual situations.
The IND wants to make changes where possible, Schaper said. According to him, the IND is looking into measures to prevent situations like those in the immigration lawyers' collection in the future. The IND is in talks with lawyers and set up a special internal consultation about distressing cases, he said. "It is a work in progress."