Labour party members on Saturday voted by a large majority in favour of a motion condemning the government’s plans to make being an illegal immigrant a criminal offence, opening up a potential conflict with the party’s leadership.
The PvdA congress in Leeuwarden supported a motion which said the plan would lead to an inhumane policy towards foreigners. The motion’s backer, Sander Terphuis, was given a standing ovation for his speech.
The motion also called on party leader Diederik Samsom and Labour MPs to do all they can to ensure the bill does not become law.
Terphuis fled to the Netherlands from Iran in the 1990s and spent several months living at a secret address without papers. ‘You do not compromise when it comes to people,’ said Terphuis, who changed his name when he took Dutch nationality.
RTL political commentator Roel Schreinemachers said the vote is ‘painful’ for the party leadership. Labour and the right-wing VVD agreed to make illegal immigration a crime in their coalition agreement last year.
A number of senior party figures, including former aid minister Jan Pronk, Hedy d’Ancona and Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen, are among those who signed a petition calling on Samsom to break open the coalition agreement and scrap this section.