Gov't bans municipalities from picking and choosing which asylum seekers they take in
The Dutch government will no longer allow municipalities to pick and choose which asylum seekers they take in, State Secretary Eric van der Burg (Asylum) said in a letter to parliament. If they continue to refuse certain asylum seekers, like single men, they will be placed in their shelters without asking. Every bed is necessary, and the Netherlands can’t afford such restrictions in the asylum crisis, Van der Burg said, Trouw reports.
The asylum application center in Ter Apel is almost full, Van der Berg said. On Tuesday night, 1,980 people slept there. Van der Burg agreed with the municipality of Westerwolde, which covers Ter Apel, that the asylum center would never accommodate more than 2,000 people. He wants to keep that promise and prevent people from having to sleep outside again, with unorthodox measures if necessary, Van der Burg said.
To give new asylum seekers a place in existing shelters, refugees - asylum seekers whose application was granted and who have a residency permit - need to move out. Due to the housing shortage in the Netherlands, that is more easily said than done. The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) currently accommodates 16,000 refugees, 11,000 of whom for longer than the agreed-upon 14 weeks.
In an emergency, the government will accommodate refugees in hotels without asking if necessary, Van der Burg said. He will also allow more asylum seekers to stay in existing asylum centers, which usually keep a small number of beds free for emergencies.
The State Secretary also announced a new “front portal” for Ter Apel in Assen. From July 1, asylum seekers can wait there for their turn to register with the Aliens Police and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND).
Westerwolde mayor Jaap Velema told Trouw that such a portal is indispensable to relieve pressure on Ter Apel. “Last year, things only calmed down when people waited elsewhere for their appointment with the aliens' police,” he said. “I assume the COA will arrange another overflow place somewhere in the Netherlands. A deal is a deal. Not another summer like that.” Last year, hundreds of asylum seekers had to sleep outside the Ter Apel center because there wasn’t a place for them.
On the evening of his letter to parliament, Van der Burg missed the deadline for his distribution law, which would oblige municipalities to take in asylum seekers. The law keeps getting postponed, this time because the VVD balked, Nieuwsuur wrote on Wednesday.