Freedom to travel is a universal human right. BIJ1 stands for a world in which this right is protected and promoted. We want a Europe-wide asylum and migration policy that combats human trafficking, torture and exploitation. This policy is based on non-violence, dignity and solidarity. No human being is illegal. BIJ1 considers it about time to improve the reputation and legal status of refugees and migrant workers. By seeing people as equal rather than as a burden, the Netherlands can and does actually benefit from migration.
PART OF THE PROBLEM, PART OF THE SOLUTION
Nobody leaves their home for good without a valid reason. The reason for fleeing is often directly or indirectly linked to a history of exploitation and colonisation by Western countries. Conflicts caused by these countries continue even today and widen the gap between the richer and poorer countries. Moreover, these Western countries are currently actively contributing to these conflicts through, among other things, the arms trade. As a result, living conditions have deteriorated to such an extent that there is sometimes no other choice but to leave. Because the Netherlands is part of the problem, it is our responsibility to be part of a solution.
As a result of the climate crisis, more areas will become uninhabitable in the coming years, either directly due to flooding or indirectly due to increased food and water insecurity and the resulting conflicts. The Netherlands must prepare to receive people who will have to leave their homes because of the climate crisis. The Netherlands should also be working within Europe and internationally to make international plans and agreements about this, in which solidarity and justice are leading factors.
MIGRATION CRISIS? NO, HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
In the Netherlands, there has been talk for years of a migration crisis. This migration crisis exists, but not as currently outlined by the government and other political parties. They claim that the Netherlands is being ‘flooded’ by migrants who are taking ‘our’ jobs and ‘our’ homes. This is not true. Since 2015, the number of asylum applications has been constantly decreasing as asylum seekers are detained at the borders of Europe. BIJ1 sees this crisis as a humanitarian crisis, caused by failing European policies such as the Turkey deal, with violations of human rights as a result.
FALSE EUROPEAN RECEPTION POLICY
Thousands of people are drowning on the Mediterranean Sea because Italy refuses to receive these migrants. The EU has stopped funding rescue operations and humanitarian NGO’s and others risk fines of up to 1 million Euros. However, the EU subsidises the Libyan coastguard, which detains migrants in detention centres where they are tortured. Seeking refuge in the region is therefore no solution. Neighbouring countries to conflict zones already receive 86% of all refugees. The refugee camps ‘in the region’ are dangerous: staying in inhumane living conditions with no prospect of improvement leaves people no choice but to embark on a life-threatening journey to a ‘safer’ Europe. Of the 1.2 million ‘vulnerable refugees’ living in such refugee camps, the Netherlands currently invites no more 500 to resettle in the Netherlands. This is not enough.
MISMANAGEMENT AT THE IND AND AZC’S
Due to staff shortages and planning errors within the IND, waiting times increase even before the IND starts processing an application for asylum. In this way, the procedure, which should only take a few weeks, can easily take up to 2 years. The uncertainty this creates increases the trauma for people who are also worried about their families in the country of origin. Although the causes of this mismanagement are simple, the consequences turn out to be disastrous. Centres for asylum seekers are overcrowded. People from the LHBTQI+ community also do not receive the protection they need in these situations.
Family reunification is delayed and trauma is increased. All this makes it more difficult to reconstruct an existence in the Netherlands. In some cases people are even wrongfully deported to their country of origin. Moreover, underage asylum seekers are often shipped out by smugglers and forced into slavery. In the Netherlands, hundreds of children disappear every year without the government having any insight or control over them.
SHORT- AND LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS
The Netherlands has failed to translate international treaties into effective policies. A radical change is needed. To this end, BIJ1 puts forward a number of short- and long-term objectives.
SHORT TERM: AN END TO VIOLENCE AND A BEGINNING OF SOLIDARITY
- The Netherlands must actively advocate within the EU for more accessible, safe flight routes and better access to asylum procedures. Asylum seekers retain the right to apply for asylum in Europe.
- The Netherlands will be deploying extra money and resources to support national and international refugee organisations and to relaunch rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
- Every year, the Netherlands will resettle a growing number of vulnerable people from refugee camps.
- There will be a general pardon for all asylum seekers and undocumented migrants who have exhausted all legal remedies in the Netherlands.
- The Netherlands must grant the right of residence to stateless persons in the Netherlands by giving them a passport.
- People who are displaced as a result of major climate changes in their home countries and who flee to the Netherlands, also known as climate refugees, are entitled to protection.
SHORT TERM: BETTER RECEPTION AND PROCEDURES
- Asylum seekers must only be moved to other locations if this is essential for the procedure.
- There will be a structural increase in investments for the material and personal support of refugees in the AZCs.
- More attention is paid to refugees from the LHBTQI+ community and in particular trans persons. They must have access to care in a safe environment.
- The IND assumes its responsibility to ensure that the asylum procedure does not exceed 8 weeks per asylum seeker.
- More resources will be invested in hearing and decision support staff for the IND to communicate culturally-sensitively and to approach and assess asylum seekers from the context and dignity of the asylum seeker. Immigration and Naturalisation Service staff are also trained to better recognise when women have fled from gender-based violence, such as forced marriages and rape.
- The credibility test will be adjusted. Hearing and decision-makers may only deal with cases if they have expertise in credibility, psychology and the cultural context of the asylum seeker.
- The social legal profession will continue to exist and be available unconditionally throughout the asylum procedure.
- The civic integration test will be taken by the government and turned into a naturalisation course that people are allowed to complete in two years’ time.
- Nobody gets into immigration detention.
- The ‘no-fault criterion’ should be amended so that undocumented migrants who cannot return through no fault of their own are entitled to a residence permit.
- There will be an integrated strategy to combat (human) trafficking in underage asylum seekers.
- Minors looking for asylum who have lived in the Netherlands for over 3 years will be granted the right of residence. They will retain their right of residence when they reach adulthood.
- Asylum seekers are allowed to look for work and start a study. Undocumented migrants may also work and study. The Linking Act will be abolished.
- Every interview with the Police and/or the IND must be attended by an independent confidential counsellor and/or translator who assists a asylum seeker. These rules are strictly enforced. The asylum seeker has the right to directly and always request contact with someone from outside, regardless of whether this person is family or not.
- Appeals against deportation orders may be awaited in the Netherlands. People in anticipation are supported and, if necessary, accommodated.
LONG TERM: REFORM OF ASYLUM AND MIGRATION POLICY IN THE NETHERLANDS AND EUROPE
- Migrants and asylum seekers will have access to the same rights as Dutch citizens, regardless of their documents or lack thereof. The Netherlands will be opening its borders to all countries and is working hard within the European Union for a reform that applies throughout the EU.
- The Netherlands abolishes residence permits and grants the right of residence to migrants regardless of their background.
- The IND’s mandate will be converted into a desk function to help people on their way in the Netherlands.
- The Netherlands will be committed at European level to abolishing FRONTEX and the Dublin Regulation.
- Within the EU, the Netherlands will be actively committed to a solidarity-based asylum system, in which a fair (re)distribution of asylum seekers takes place by means of a distribution key, and in which Mediterranean countries are relieved. This takes into account the needs of the asylum seeker, such as cultural background and family ties.
- The Netherlands will actively invite asylum seekers who are detained in refugee camps and will encourage other European countries to increase the number of annual invitations.
- The Netherlands closes all detention centres for asylum seekers and stops all deportations.