Dutch Prepare Limits On Immigrants, Drugs 

Dutch Prepare Limits On Immigrants, Drugs 
Posted by CN Staff on July 11, 2002 at 07:33:41 PT
By Keith B. Richburg, WP Foreign Service
Source: Washington Post 
The center-right political coalition set to take power later this month in the Netherlands announced plans today for tough new restrictions on immigration and a crackdown on drugs, including limits on the famous coffeehouses where marijuana is sold openly.The coalition will create a Ministry of Immigration and Integration, to be run by a minister from the party of Pim Fortuyn, the maverick politician who was assassinated May 6 during a campaign for strict limits on immigration. His party and others with anti-foreigner platforms received a wave of sympathy votes in an election nine days later.
The new government plans to admit fewer immigrants "who are in danger of ending up in a disadvantaged situation," according to the coalition's policy summary, released by the Dutch Embassy here. The government also will make it "more difficult for members of ethnic minorities to bring a partner from their home country to the Netherlands," the summary says.If the new policies are enacted, the Netherlands will join other European countries, led by Denmark, that are toughening immigration laws after recent election victories by rightist and populist politicians.The Netherlands historically has been one of Europe's most welcoming and tolerant societies. Immigrants and their descendants make up about 10 percent of the country's population, and more than 30 percent in the country's biggest cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague.The new policy says immigrants seeking permanent residency in the Netherlands will be forced to pay in advance for a compulsory course in integration. Half the cost will be refunded upon completion of the course. There also will be a stricter definition of who qualifies for political asylum. Those who don't qualify will be deported.The plan includes a stern warning for the home countries of illegal immigrants: "Governments refusing to take back subjects who have been refused asylum in the Netherlands will not be eligible for development aid," the summary says.Leaders of the 15-member European Union, meeting in Seville last month, rejected similar tough language. Some member countries, notably France and Sweden, said it would be harmful to tie development aid to immigration.The largest party in the new government is the conservative Christian Democratic Appeal, led by a boyish-looking, 46-year-old professor of Christian philosophy, Jan Peter Balkenende. He is set to become the next prime minister.Under the coalition agreement announced today, Balkenende's party will hold six ministries, including the key posts of justice and foreign affairs. The party of Fortuyn will have four ministries, including the new one for immigration and integration. The third party in the coalition, the Liberal VVD, also will have four posts, including finance and defense. The coalition won 93 of the 150 seats in parliament.Fortuyn campaigned on a fiercely anti-immigrant platform, proclaiming, "Holland is full." His strident remarks, particularly against Islam, which he called a "backward" religion, earned him the wrath of the country's minorities but also legions of followers who felt the left-wing government was ignoring their concerns about crime and immigration.The program "obviously is what the 17 percent of the people who voted" for Fortuyn's party wanted, said Rudy Andeweg, a Leiden University political scientist. "Whether this is what the majority of the population wants is another question."He said some groups representing immigrants were already protesting the changes. But Andeweg said many of the Netherlands' minorities are not registered to vote, "so they are politically irrelevant."The incoming government also said it plans to tighten the country's tolerant laws on the cannabis sold in licensed coffeeshops."The criteria governing coffeeshops will be enforced more strictly, and coffeeshops will no longer be tolerated in the vicinity of schools and the national borders," the policy summary says.The latter change would address concerns of some neighboring countries with more restrictive drug laws. People there have complained that their young people cross the border to take advantage of the Netherlands' liberal rules.The program also pledges a crackdown on the manufacture and use of the drug ecstasy. The Netherlands has emerged as a major center of the drug."The production of and trade in drugs in the Netherlands has reached unacceptable levels and must be tackled more firmly," the summary says.Source: Washington Post (DC)Author: Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post Foreign ServicePublished: Thursday, July 11, 2002; Page A15 Copyright: 2002 The Washington Post Company Contact: letterstoed washpost.comWebsite: Related Articles:New Government Presents Its Coalition Agreement To Holland Before It's Too Late Voters Turn To The Right 
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Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on July 11, 2002 at 08:59:05 PT
This is interesting
Now conservatives will get used to the ides that legalization means that when they want to tighten limits on cannabis, they can actually do something meaningful. One can't regulate an illegal market, but a legal one can be regulated according to the wishes of the community.
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Comment #2 posted by xxdr_zombiexx on July 11, 2002 at 08:04:30 PT
I cant help but feel the US had something to do with the election situation in the Netherlands.Of course, this is a washington post article, so it is only going to report prohibitionist good news.It all sounds
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Comment #1 posted by goneposthole on July 11, 2002 at 07:52:19 PT
doomed policy
'Backward' political policy, too. To deem Islam as a 'backward' religion is inviting terrorists to your doorstep. Right wing Christians in the 'Bible Belt' wipe there feet on the Israeli flag when they enter their 'church'. Christianity would be a 'forward' religion?You can lead a bull to the whatchamacallit, but you can't make him stampede.
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