IND ethnically profiled business owners for years
The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) recorded the ethnicities of thousands of company directors under the assumption that those with a non-Western background would be more likely to commit immigration fraud when bringing in employees, NRC reports. Their companies would need to be audited more often, the IND reasoned.
The risk model was in place from 2014 until early 2022. “Certain regions of the world have a different way of dealing with legal provisions," wrote officials in confidential documents from 2011, according to NRC. "As a result, directors from a certain country of birth are more likely to break rules.”
This reasoning guided how the IND scored a business's potential for fraud. Residence permit fraud happens when a highly-skilled migrant is brought into the Netherlands under the pretense of working for a company, because no Dutch employees could be found –– but, for example, the company is either not real, or the migrant is not actually "highly skilled."
Although the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) prohibits ethnic profiling, the IND listed the ethnic background of directors under the "other indicators" category of its risk model for assessing businesses. However, the risk scores developed from this model have been called "unsubstantiated." There are too few instances of fraud for the IND to suggest such patterns, according to a report from 2011.
In 2017, the IND was warned by lawyers that the system amounted to discrimination. Despite the warning, the IND took years to banish the faulty risk model. It also seemed more concerned with its appearance than anything else, according to NRC. “How can we adjust it so that there is no risk of image damage for the IND?” one employee wrote in an internal email.
However, the system was disabled temporarily in 2021 and ended for good in 2022. In the coming year, the risk model should be replaced with a new method, the IND hopes.