Cabinet gets criticism from all sides in asylum crisis debate
The Cabinet faced criticism from all sides in a parliamentary debate on the asylum crisis on Thursday. Left-wing parties called the Cabinet’s plans inhumane and against international law, especially when it came to limiting family reunification. The far-right accused the government of luring more asylum seekers to the Netherlands with too weak policies.
The left-wing opposition wants the Cabinet to shelve its plan to temporarily suspend family reunification. Farid Azarkin called it a “dirty compromise” that goes against international law and is “inhuman.” The SP, GroenLinks, PvdA, BIJ1, and PvdD also strongly oppose the Cabinet policy.
Kati Piri (PvdA) said the Cabinet “increases lifelong trauma” by not allowing family reunification unless the refugees already have a home. Suzanne Kroger (GroenLinks) said she has “not yet heard a lawyer” who thinks it is legally possible. The two parties appealed for urgent advice from the Council of Stae.
Sylvana Simons (BIJ1) accused the Cabinet of choosing to violate human rights and spoke of “cold-blooded political unwillingness and a total lack of humanity.” She spoke of “abuse of our rule of law.” Christine Theunissen (PvdD) accused the Cabinet of “mismanagement” for allowing this obviously illegal measure to end up in court. State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) assumes his family reunification measure will hold up in court because the alternative would be an overloaded asylum system that would also have negative consequences for the rights of this group.
The left-wing parties also called the living conditions in Ter Apel shameful. According to Piri, this is the result of “maximum efficiency thinking,” and the government clearly hasn’t learned anything from the asylum wave of 2016. Kroger drew a parallel with the benefits scandal and the nitrogen crisis because, according to her, the government pursued legally unsound policies on all these points. Azakran and Simons said that this is not an asylum reception crisis. According to Simons, it is a “humanitarian crisis.” According to Azarkan, it is a “civilization crisis.”
The far-right believes the government’s asylum policy will lead to even more asylum seekers coming to the Netherlands. PVV and JA21 demanded a much stricter policy that should halt the influx of asylum seekers and a better approach to the outflow. The same applies to BBB and Groep Van Haga.
The PVV blames the VVD for policy that has been going wrong for years and certainly in the past months. The party wants State Secretary Van der Burg replaced. PVV parliamentarian Gidi Markuszower and Wybren van Haga (Groep Van Haga) referred to statements made by Van der Burg years ago about “the more asylum seekers, the better.” Van Haga believes that the Cabinet has lost control and would prefer new elections. JA21 faction leader Joost Eerdmans also thinks a solution will only be found if Rutte IV leaves office.
The parties denounced the coercion applied in the municipality of Tubbergen, where the Cabinet gave asylum agency COA permission to open an asylum center. They believe that this rightly led to anger among the locals. Caroline van der Plas of BBB also spoke for the residents who, according to her, the Cabinet immediately dismissed as racists because they were uncertain about the arrival of asylum seekers.
According to the right-wing parties, the solution is to stop letting in asylum seekers or close the borders, which the PVV is pushing for. People fleeing from distant countries must be accommodated in their own region. BBB argued for an asylum stop until the problems in the asylum chain are solved. Van der Plas does not understand why the coalition doesn’t respond to solutions proposed by the opposition. “The coalition and the Cabinet have raised an iron curtain against us, which obscures the view,” she said.
According to the right-wing opposition, this crisis results from the government’s political unwillingness to tackle the problems and devise solutions to reduce the influx of asylum seekers. They believe the Cabinet has failed to immediately deport criminal asylum seekers or asylum seekers from “safe” countries. In their view, the Cabinet should use coercion to force countries to take back their nationals.
The debate will continue into the evening and is scheduled to end at around 10:00 p.m.