maandag 18 januari 2010

Dutch immigration law is a dragon

Young acrobat in court

Today is another court. One of the Afrisinia acrobats is going to Canossa (literally translated from Dutch, meaning: going a long terrible way you rather would not take) At nine in the morning a judge will listen to both the lawyer of the immigration service (who wants to send the boy back) and to the defense (who wants to keep him in the Netherlands) We will sit in court for one hour and listen to sentences we do not understand, as the language is very peculiar, specifically meant for juridical scholars, excluding everybody else.

The acrobat we talk about is a seventeen-year-old boy, who lost his father and can't find his mother. She disappeared during an Ethiopia/Eritrea conflict. He wants to learn and to perform shows with his friends. He also wants to play around like every teenager, have girlfriends, chat and play football in his spare time. He wants to escape the horrible things that happened to him in his home country. He wants to be free.

Not safe
All that matters is the procedure. The judge is tied to its rules. It is not up to him or her to grant the youngster asylum. The judge only checks if the procedure is followed according to the rules. So even if the young acrobat wins this court, he will not be safe. The Dutch immigration service will have to do some rework and can easily discard the request for asylum again.

Tomorrow at nine we will witness for the thirteenth time the impotence of the judicial power. We've met a lot of judges and asylum lawyers. In private, they all say the same: Dutch immigration law is a dragon. It is not fit to protect people. The law is meant to keep foreigners out.

No wall high enough
Apart from the harm this law inflicts on individual refugees, it is a very shortsighted policy. We need people from abroad to support our aging and graying population. Imagine the mutual gains in a few years: we will be old and rich. Africa (among other developing countries) is young and poor. If we stop being so xenophobic and accept the help of the Africans in exchange for education and shared prosperity, the whole world will be better off. If we don't let other people join, they will force entry themselves. No wall is high enough, no force is strong enough to keep desperate and hungry people out.

Dance of the lawyers
The seventeen-year-old acrobat lays in his bed now. He can't sleep. Tomorrow is a big day. Tomorrow the authorities will decide over his life, he thinks. He can't understand by far that tomorrow the lawyers will dance prescribed steps in front of the judge trying to outsmart each other and that his life story doesn't matter at all.

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