The Daily Herald reports that the law initiative of Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party to regulate the permanent residence of people from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten in the Netherlands appears to have the support of at least three parties in Parliament. The liberal democratic VVD party, the Party for Freedom PVV and the Christian Democratic Party CDA, good for a total of 71 of the 150 seats in the Second Chamber, do not seem to have major objections to the law proposal that seeks to repress the migration of deprived and poorly-educated people from the islands.
However, the parties also had concerns and many questions. In their contribution to Parliament’s Permanent Committee for Safety and Justice on Thursday, the VVD members only had a few comments of a technical nature on certain articles and choice of words in the law proposal. The VVD did ask about Bosman’s statement that the law proposal would not have an adverse effect on the cooperation between the partners in the Kingdom. The PVV members expressed some concerns as to control and enforcement once the law was implemented, especially where it came to the expulsion of persons overstaying the six-month period in the Netherlands without a permanent residence permit. The PVV is worried about the part of the law proposal that says people who have not been granted residence permits will not be forced to leave the Netherlands or considered punishable by law and that their expulsion will be possible only when they pose a threat to public order and safety. The PVV members feared that this “big abstention” would result in a toothless law. The CDA members sympathised with the law proposal considering their past position regarding an admittance regulation and the 2004 adopted motion of CDA Member of Parliament Mirjam Sterk to come with such a regulation. On the other hand, the CDA asked what Bosman’s urgency was to come with an initiative law at this stage. The party asked Bosman to provide an overview of migration figures of people from the three islands in the past 10 years, the crime statistics, unemployment and social welfare figures.
The Labour Party PvdA did not indicate clearly whether it supports the law initiative of its coalition partner the VVD. The PvdA members said they shared Bosman’s position that “it remained of importance for the Netherlands to keep focusing on the integration of Dutch citizens from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten and to improve measures to promote labour and social participation.” According to the PvdA, it must be prevented that “Dutch Antilleans” take up residence in the Netherlands without sufficient future prospects. “Introducing admittance requirements cannot only be a means.” The PvdA asked about the possibilities to increase the opportunities for people both on the islands and in the Netherlands. In a lengthy contribution, the PvdA questioned the urgency of an admittance regulation, also considering the plans of the Dutch government to come to a Kingdom Law on the movement of people within the Kingdom during this governing period. “Why can’t we wait for a Kingdom Law?” The PvdA expressed concerns that the handling of Bosman’s law proposal might compromise a regulation on Kingdom level. The members asked whether Bosman was willing to include a “withdrawal clause” in his law proposal in case the Kingdom Law on the movement of persons was realised. The PvdA wondered whether the Council of State, which was highly critical of Bosman’s initial law proposal, would agree with Bosman’s revised version where it came to the differentiation between Dutch citizens in the Kingdom and the legal room for an admittance regulation. “Needless to say, we value a legally sound law proposal that can withstand the judicial test in the Netherlands or Europe.” “People from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten will have to comply with the same residence requirements as citizens of the European Union (EU), but doesn’t it still mean that a differentiation will be made between Dutch residents?” asked the PvdA. “Wouldn’t the implementation of requirements for a group by definition imply a differentiation? If so, is that differentiation proportionally in relation to the objective?” The PvdA further asked Bosman whether he had been in contact with the governments and Parliaments of the three islands and Dutch Caribbean organisations in the Netherlands like OCAN, which are all against the law proposal.
The Socialist Party (SP) also asked for a response to the criticism of the island governments and OCAN. The SP wanted to know why the efforts of the Dutch government to promote the integration of Dutch Caribbean persons in the Netherlands had not been fruitful enough. The SP, which didn’t take a clear stand on the law proposal, did pose a number of critical questions. The members wanted to know whether the objective of the law proposal could not be achieved in a “less radical way” and what the chances were that a regulation would still be realised on a Kingdom level. According to the SP, a Dutch citizen who stays in the Netherlands without a residence permit can never be considered an illegal “because he or she will remain a subject of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.” The members further asked how Bosman would prevent island people without residence permits who cannot be expelled from hiding and, as a result, becoming more vulnerable to exploitation and crime.