Cabinet divided over plan to create two classes of refugees
Coalition parties are divided over plans to divide refugees into two categories in a fresh attempt to limit family reunions.
The largest party, the right-wing Liberal VVD, has thrown its weight behind a plan by the Christian Democrats (CDA) to create an ‘A’ and ‘B’ status for asylum seekers. But D66 and the ChristenUnie have said the idea is inhumane and impractical.
People fleeing persecution by their government would be given ‘A’ status, while those seeking shelter from war or violence without a personal reason to leave would be denoted as class ‘B’ refugees. Crucially, the latter status would not entitle asylum seekers to be joined later by their families.
The cabinet is still seeking a solution to the issue of family reunifications after the Council of State threw out asylum minister Eric van der Burg’s plan to suspend new residency permits for six months, ruling it conflicted with Dutch and European law.
The government expects it will need to accommodate 77,000 asylum seekers by the end of this year, and the number could rise to 97,000 by the end of 2024. The figure does not include Ukrainians, who are not being accommodated in the mainstream asylum system.
The VVD and CDA hope a two-tier system will also reduce the number of successful asylum claims. Currently more than 80% of requests for asylum in the Netherlands are granted, compared to 62% in Germany and 43% in Belgium.
However, Germany received 244,000 asylum applications in 2022 compared to 35,000 in the Netherlands, almost seven times as many, while the German population is five times larger.
D66 MP Anne-Marijke Podt said separating refugees into two categories was “unacceptable” and unworkable
“It leaves people in war zones to their fate,” she told the Volkskrant. “This system will also lead to an explosive growth in people appealing against their designated status.”
ChristenUnie MP Don Ceder said the plan would “create more problems than it solves” and called for more fundamental reforms to the asylum laws.
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