Labour backs leader on illegal immigrants, with tough conditions

The Labour party’s members’ council on Sunday backed the decision by leader Diederik Samsom to support making it a criminal offence to be an illegal immigrant.

However, they also voted in favour of a string of measures to make official policy towards illegal immigrants ‘more humane’ and for scrapping a police quota.

Last week, the PvdA conference overwhelmingly voted against making it a criminal offence to live in the Netherlands without proper paperwork. However, Samsom said he planned to press ahead with the plan because it is included in the coalition agreement between Labour and the right-wing VVD.

‘The VVD is not stupid,’ Samsom told the meeting. ‘If we hold new discussions, the VVD will want something in return… the total package could be worse than we have now. You cannot have everything you want in a coalition.’

Fines not prison

Delegates, with the support of Samsom, went on to vote for another motion which would soften some of the aspects of the new rules.

For example, a police quota – they are supposed to catch 4,800 illegal immigrants a year – should go. In addition, people without papers should face fines but not prison and people who cannot be deported should not be held in custody, members agreed.

Commentators said despite now accepting illegality can be a criminal offence, Labour could still face difficulties with its coalition partner because of the other demands.

The anti-immigration PVV has demanded an immediate debate on the Labour party’s new position, to find out if there is sufficient VVD support for the changes.

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