Justice minister has allowed 59 refugees to stay so far, including Howick and Lili

Refugee children on the Syrian border.In total, 59 asylum seekers have been given the right to stay in the Netherlands by junior justice minister Mark Harbers since he took office last October, RTL Nieuws said on Tuesday.

The minister has the power of discretion to allow people who do not fit the rules for refugee status residency and has used it 26 times so far, the broadcaster said.

The total includes Armenian teenagers Lili and Howick who were given a last minute reprieve from deportation this weekend. They have lived in the Netherlands for 10 years but do not meet the conditions for the child amnesty.




Harbers’ predecessor Klaas Dijkhoff gave 240 rejected asylum seekers residency permits out of 780 cases submitted to him over a two year period. His predecessor Fred Teeven, who held the post for three years, used his powers of discretion 300 times, RTL said.

400 children

Some 400 other children are said to be in the same position as Lili and Howick – well-rooted in the Netherlands but not meeting the child amnesty conditions. These state children can qualify for the amnesty if they have lived in the Netherlands for more than five years, have been under the supervision of an official organisation and are under the age of 18.

Being in touch with local councils and going to school is not sufficient to qualify for the amnesty because these bodies do not have a role in law in immigration policy and are therefore not ‘official’. In addition, children are ruled ineligible if their parents have not cooperated with efforts to deport them – which rules out nearly everyone.

Prime minister Mark Rutte said on Monday the cabinet has no plans to change the rules, despite calls from opposition MPs, celebrities and aid groups.

Iraqi teenagers

The Volkskrant on Tuesday reported on the case of three Iraqi teenagers who have lived in the Netherlands for 10 years and face being deported to Iraq. The oldest daughter, Maryam, is 18 and hopes to be a dentist like her father.

‘We are not numbers, there are people with feelings behind the numbers,’ Maryam told the Volkskrant. ‘Politicians need to realise that the rules they make have an impact on us.’


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