Thursday, December 15, 2005

Verdonk: Minister of "Asylum Seeker Expelling" hits the dust, and gets up again

Dutch Minister Verdonk of Immigration and Intergration had to eat humble pie yesterday. The Left wing opposition put a motion of censure on the table because Verdonk had misled parliament a hundred times on the issue of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) providing information on expelled asylum seekers to the authorities in Congo. The information provided to the Congolese "authorities" about the stories asylum seekers had told the IND was used by Congolese authorities to persecute opposition people, including the rejected asylum seekers.

To give my readers some background: the IND started to get into heavy seas in the early nineties. After the fall of the Iron Curtain legal immigrants, illegal immigrants and asylum seekers where flocking to the Netherlands, which had a positive and easy reputation. Responsible for the legal processes concerned with all forms of immigration was the IND. After 1994 The Netherlands had 8 years of its first non Christian coalition in 70 years. The coalition was made up of the Traditional Liberally VVD, the Labour party and Democrats 66 as left of centre party. Despite the Liberal immigration rethoric of all these three parties the Liberals were already getting cold feet on immigration, which was often voiced by their brave and opinionated leader Bolkestein, presently Director General of Directorate General IV of the European Union, a heavy weight in many respects. As a result of these cold feet the IND was never expanded so that it was unable to meaningfully administer the flow of immigrants, temporary workers and asylum seekers. I know that the IND was a chaos because I had to assist in the application for work permits for technology workers from Australia, Turkey and the USA several times between 1999 and 2002 in the course of my work.

Because of the backlog and chaos 70 or 80 percent of the requests for asylum were not processed for 5 or 7 years. This happened while Labour was in the government coalition and Klaas de Vries was Minister of the interior. Again: Klaas de Vries was the MP who asked for the motion against Verdonk.

The main part of the motion next to the facts that the IND endangered the lives of failed asylum seekers and that Minister Verdonk lied about it is that only a year ago the IND started to be able to report such basic things of the names and statuses of asylum applicants and rejected asylum applicants.

Because of this new found IND transparency parliament is now able to get answers from the IND and make life for Minister Verdonk difficult. She would have had to step down if she had not won over part of the parliament, because Christian Democratic (CDA) and Democrat 66 coalition partners did not support her. She received only support from Traditional Liberal VVD and Fortuyn's remnants LPF.

Minister Verdonk replied to the criticism by recognising that it was correct. It was wrong that the IND, for which she is responsible, made the Congolese authorities privy to information that was not meant for their eyes or ears. And it is wrong that she misled Parliament about this in 20 cases. Not a hundred as was alleged. Also she admitted that this happened to other non Congo asylum seekers as well. This admission of failure plus her apology won over Democrats 66 who had supported the motion of censure. After that her crisis was over, but the debate continued for many hours, during which coalition partner CDA reluctantly allowed itself to be persuaded to return to the flock.

The Leftist parties demanded that the capacity and operations of the IND will be improved. The are right but as I have showed before the IND was already a shambles during time that Labour was responsible for the IND. Not a word about this in the Dutch press of course. If any of my Dutch readers can point me to an article that points out that Labour ex-Minister Klaas de Vries was originally responsible for the IND disaster I will be most grateful.

Meanwhile from a poll that was published this week it transpired that Minister Verdonk is the most popular and best regarded politician amongst the Dutch populace. Reasons given are her transparancy and clear language on issues that concern a sizable portion of Dutch voters:
While Verdonk was fighting for her political life on Wednesday, it was announced she had been voted the best politician of the year in a new opinion poll, mainly because of her "clear language" and "trustworthiness".
In the same poll she also scored third as the most unpopular politician, showing that there is still a portion of the population that has not abandoned mass immigration and Multiculturalism.

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