Immigration service to give asylum seekers the benefit of the doubt more often
The Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) will give asylum seekers the benefit of the doubt more often in the future, the service’s new director general Rhodia Maas said in an interview with Trouw on Tuesday.
According to Maas, who started her career as a decision officer at the IND, deciding on asylum applications has become increasingly complex and time-consuming. “What you see now in European directives, court decisions, refinement of policy, motivated by political wishes. It always gets more, and more complicated,” she said to the newspaper. “Perhaps we should rather say: we give the benefit of the doubt. We can’t mess with the process. But we need to have this conversation together.”
Over the past years, asylum lawyers have often criticized the IND for always expecting asylum seekers to lie and cheat their way into the Netherlands and never giving them the benefit of the doubt. Maas stressed that the IND has to implement the laws and regulations established through a democratic process. Politicians ultimately decide who can and cannot stay in the Netherlands, not the IND, she said.
She also said that, for too long, the IND has just accepted politicians’ demands and tried its best to implement them. But there is a limit to what the service can achieve. The IND is struggling with increasing backlogs in asylum applications, with a third of asylum seekers waiting longer than the allowed six months for a decision. Staff shortages are the main culprit. But according to Maas, the IND’s plate is also too full of different tasks.
“At some point, you must conclude that you can’t solve everything,” she said. “I am confident we can have a conversation with this State Secretary [Eric van der Burg] about what is and isn’t possible. Or about what is not possible now, or perhaps not in the way that parliament has in mind.”