Efforts to win residency permits for several hundred child refugees who have lived in the Netherlands for at least eight years took another knock on Thursday when immigration minister Gerd Leers said he would continue to say ‘no’.
‘I am going to say no, not with my heart but with my head,’ the minister said. He was speaking after receiving a petition signed by 130,000 people. The petition calls for an amnesty for children who have become rooted in the Netherlands.
‘The children are not responsible, not for their arrival here or war and violence,’ Leers said. This made it a difficult decision to take, he said. However, in the end, shorter procedures were the best way of making sure children are not given false hope, he said.
Since GroenLinks parliamentarian Tofik Dibi began campaigning on behalf of refugee children, some 175 local councils have called for a permanent solution to the problem.
Political parties ChristenUnie and PvdA have also drawn up legislation which would give the children residency permits. That will be up to the next parliament after the September 12 general election.
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