Stalemate over pardon for refugees

Immigration minister Rita Verdonk this afternoon declined to comment on whether she will carry out parliament’s wishes and grant Dutch residency to some 12,000 long-term refugees. She would only say that the cabinet would send a letter to parliament on the issue as soon as possible.

During the first debate of the new parliament yesterday, MPs voted by a margin of one in support of a Labour initiative to end the deportations of this group of refugees, pending a so-called ‘general pardon’.
However, a majority of the outgoing cabinet is against an amnesty. During the debate, Verdonk said she remained ‘fiercely opposed’ to a ‘general pardon’, the Telegraaf reported. She considers it ‘unusual and undesirable’ that parliament is trying to force a decommissioned cabinet into accepting new policy before a new coalition government has been formed, the paper said.
The Telegraaf quotes Labour leader Wouter Bos as saying there would be an ‘extremely difficult’ situation if Verdonk refuses to carry out the wishes of parliament. On Friday there was widespread speculation that Verdonk could be forced to resign over the issue.

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