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Illegals premium called into question

11 October 2006 – According to the new performance contract, the police will receive a bonus if it manages to arrest 11,883 undocumented residents next year. Tomorrow, the city council will question Mayor Job Cohen on the issue. Meanwhile, questions are being asked in The Hague, Hoorn, Zaanstad, Tilburg and Friesland as well.

(added: Leeuwarden, Groningen, Utrecht, Rotterdam, Drachten, Velsen)

District council member Jelle Houtsma (Social-Democrat PvdA) first raised the alarm. The municipality should not be involved in a hunt after illegal residents and if necessary resort to civil disobedience, he told News from Amsterdam. Since then, questions have been asked by the Social-Liberal D66, the Socialist Party (SP) and Green Party GroenLinks. Judith Sargentini (GroenLinks) called the premium for hunting down illegals ‘inhumane’. PvdA party leader Manon van der Garde is concerned as well and will tomorrow ask the mayor for a clarification.
Sargentini and Van der Garde; Houtsma

The city council has passed a motion asking the mayor to have the premium abolished.

In The Hague, GroenLinks, The Hague City Party (HSP), PvdA, D66 and SP fear that the illegals premium “may lead to reprehensible practices, such as discrimination on the basis of appearance and hunting down illegals such as victims of traffic in women and asylum seekers who have run out of legal options, who with or without children, have nowhere to go”. They ask the city administration (PvdA, GroenLinks and conservative VVD) to change the contract or to make conditions.

D66 has its doubts: “Arresting illegals can never be a goal in itself”, says council member and former alderman Arthur Helling in the Noordhollands Dagblad. “And it looks that way now”. The mayor is a fellow member of D66.

Erik Schaap of the local Rosa party says in Noordhollands Dagblad: “It will result in innocent people ending up in jail. Think of the Chinese boy Hui who is detained as well [the detention of this eight-year old boy incited protests across the country – Ed]. Because many foreigners cannot leave the country. And illegal residence in itself is not punishable”. The party further fears that “the agreement in the contract to inspect foreigners’ residence papers will lead to selective surveillance, of which especially people with a coloured skin or foreign-sounding names will be the victim”, it appears from questions asked by the party.

D66 has asked questions. “Such performance contracts will be counter productive; the police will arrest mainly families with children because they are easier to detect than for example criminal illegals. And this can never be the intention”, says Peter van Gool, member of a council committee for D66 in Tilburg.
GroenLinks has also asked questions: “Do you agree that a witch hunt after illegals does not make a real contribution to the safety of citizens living in the region?”

PvdA provincial council member Wietze de Haan asks: “How about such performance contracts in the North? And specifically in Fryslân? People will know better here..... Won’t they.....”

Superintendent Berndsen has promised that there will be no witch hunt after undocumented foreigners. The mayors of Wûnseradiel, Smallingerland, Boarnsterhim, Dantumadeel Opsterland have serious objections to the performance agreements. Many Frisian mayors want the police not to implement the agreements, but Dales, responsible for the corps, said that the mayors have no authority over the police department that deals with migration issues (source: Fries Dagblad).

The SP is concerned that the police will focus more on ethnic minorities and wants to know if the agreement does not run counter to the city’s policy to support refugees who get into trouble as a result of failing government policies. The police should concentrate on doing its job: solve crimes and reduce criminality.

D66: “As an opposition party, we disagree with many aspects of this administration’s programme, but not with the strong position to do all we can as a municipality for asylum seekers who have run out of legal options, certainly if it regards families. D66 therefore finds it amazing that a performance contract for arresting people is being signed under the responsibility of this administration”.

The city council has passed a motion asking the mayor to have the premium abolished.

GroenLinks has asked questions, the performance contract will be put on the agenda of the city council in November.

In Rotterdam, Theo Cornelissen (SP) has raised the alarm. “All must be done to prevent a round-up being organised at the end of next year. Such a thing does not belong in a decent city”.

Party Leader Peter van Heemst (PvdA) told to News from Amsterdam that there is in the Rotterdam PvdA ‘no strong feeling of indignation’ about the issue. As long as the police operates in a ‘restrained’ way, there is no problem, Van Heemst says. Asked to explain the difference with the Amsterdam PvdA, which supported a motion against the performance agreements, Van Heemst prided himself in Rotterdam being a ‘more practical’ city.

The Interfaith Working Group for Regugees in Drachten in an open letter called on politicians to face the problems of asylum seekers who have no more legal options left. The group is very worried about the performance agreement (source: Fries Dagblad).

The city council has passed a motion against the illegals premium.


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