- Category: News
- Created on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 13:10
- Written by Amsterdam Herald
The initiative, supported by politicians and celebrities, was launched on Monday and aims to put pressure on the centre-right coalition to relax its strict immigration policy.
It also hopes to mobilise the public sentiment that rose up in support of Angolan teenager Mauro Manuel, who faces being deported to his native country despite living in the Netherlands since the age of 10.
The 18-year-old sparked a debate in Parliament after writing to immigration minister Gerd Leers pleading to be allowed to stay in Limburg, where he has been raised in a foster family.
Leers’s refusal to use his discretion in the case was sharply criticised by opposition politicians and threatened to cause a split in his own Christian Democrat (CDA) faction, some of whose senior members spoke out for Mauro.
Mauro is currently waiting for the minister to decide whether to grant him a student visa, which would give him a temporary right to stay.
But the petitioners want the government to go further and allow all children who arrive in the country as refugees to be given permanent residency.
The petition, titled kinderpardon.nu, calls on Leers to “show that the Netherlands can be great”. It says: “These children belong here. We demand a children’s amnesty. We want to spare them the uncertainty and welcome them in their own country.”
One of the leading supporters of the petition, Green-Left (GroenLinks) MP Tofik Dibi, told NRC: “This is a grass-roots social movement which I happened to create an outlet for.
“I’m surprised how many people have supported it already. They want to do something for these children, they want to have their voice heard.
“Solutions have been found for people like Mauro, although they are second-class solutions. But thousands of others are not allowed to stay.
“I want to get away from inequality and arbitrary justice, stop talking about individual cases and create a rule that applies to everyone.”
The lower house of Parliament will shortly consider a legislative proposal to clear up the rules for child asylum seekers.
“If the whole of the Netherlands says that these children ought to stay here, that is a very clear signal to Parliament,” said Dibi.