Last night, party leader Wopke Hoekstra argued in Pauw’s election debates for a stricter asylum procedure. Among other things, he said, “I think three-quarters of the applications come from refugees for economic reasons.” But this is not true.
CDA party leader took over GroenLinks opponent Jesse Clapper. So they were talking about refugee policy. But nearly 30 percent of all asylum status applications were from refugees from Syria last year, according to statistics from the Netherlands. And because they are not economic refugees, “three-quarters” of Hoekstra cannot be right.
According to Juret Ripma, professor of European immigration law, asylum status in the Netherlands is granted to a person under two conditions. “First of all, you will obtain refugee status if you are persecuted in your country, for example, because of your race, religion, or sexual orientation. In addition, you can obtain refugee status if you simply cannot return to your country, because there is a severe risk.” .
You will get asylum status only when your asylum application is approved. While your application is being processed, Rijpma says, you do not have asylum status yet, you only have the right of residence. “This means that you can legally reside in the Netherlands for the duration of the procedure. If your application is rejected, the decision to return will be made immediately.”
Refugees for economic reasons do not exist
Rijpma explains that from a legal perspective, there are no economic refugees. In fact, the “economic refugees” are more likely to be migrant workers. “They are people who are looking for a better future and therefore decided to emigrate.”
But these people do not fall into one of the two categories to which they are entitled to obtain refugee status, and therefore their applications will never be accepted. It is also almost impossible for them to enter the Netherlands legally, so applying for asylum is the only option left.
Hoekstra talks about people who want to get asylum. The spokesman for the Dutch Refugee Council, Martin van der Linden, says that the group of so-called “economic refugees” cannot reach three-quarters of the total number of refugees applying for asylum. “These kinds of misconceptions are always circulated, but it simply isn’t true that Hoekstra mentioned such a high percentage.”
Figures released by the Immigration and Naturalization Service indicate that a total of 13,580 asylum applications were submitted in 2020. Of these, 8,620 were approved, Van der Linden explains. “This means that in 63.5 percent of the cases the right to protection was necessary. An economic refugee would never have this right to protection, so 75 percent (Van Hoekstra editor) is not correct.” The proportion of economic refugees, according to these figures, should be closer to 36.5.
A report issued by the national government also contains information on the acceptance rate for 2020. Among the first asylum applications decided between January and December 2020, 49 percent were approved.
A footnote on this percentage explains how percentages are calculated and that the numbers differ from the Eurostat numbers (provided by the IND) due to differences in the definitions. But even if 49 percent of asylum applications are approved, 75 percent is still very high.
Finally, it can be concluded that the ratio is overestimated by looking at figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics. In 2020, 4,070 Syrian refugees applied for asylum. This represents 29.6% of the total number of asylum applications.
If Syrian refugees alone account for 29.6 percent of the total number of asylum applications, then 75 percent of the applications submitted by refugees could not have been made for economic reasons. Due to the ten-year civil war in Syria, refugees from this country have the right to protection and the right to asylum.
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