Nieuws - 15 november 2012

Proposition: Criminalizing illegal immigrants solves nothing

Marlies Bos (the left-wing fluffy type) and Jillis Herweijer (the right-wing Hooray Henry type) rarely see eye to eye on matters of politics, the environment or student life.

Marlies:  The new cabinet's plan to criminalize illegal immigrants is a bad plan. First and foremost I feel it is inhuman and disproportionate. People find out the downsides of being illegal anyway: being threatened with deportation and exclusion from social security. This measure will encourage exploitation by employers and unscrupulous landlords, as well as other irregularities: as an illegal resident you will avoid going to the police if you risk getting a criminal record yourself. This sort of exploitation already exists, and will only get worse.
What the government expects to achieve by this is a mystery to me: under current law it is already possible to deport people. In neighbouring countries where illegal residence is a crime, it has not seemed to lead to people leaving faster of their own accord. In short: a bad idea, working to the advantage of the wrong people, and which probably won't achieve the intended goal.
Jillis responds: For reasons given in the other column, this measure is definitely needed and will be effective. I don't think - as you do - that an illegal immigrant is scared of a criminal record, so that is not really a good argument. What is more, illegal immigrants certainly won't depart en masse, but this might limit the numbers coming in.
Jillis: I think it's a good idea and really no more than logical to make illegal residence criminal. The logic is right there in the word 'illegal': something that is against the law. And secondly, making illegal residence a crime is a deterrent. The less comfortable a country makes it for illegal refugees, the less attractive it will be for them. This measure also takes the burden off society to a significant degree, because illegal immigrants who are caught will be kept in 'immigrant detention'. Both residents and refugees will be spared the current scenes of improvised tented camps stinking of shit in residential areas. And this law will help to reduce criminality among these refugees, since they won't be able to engage in it once they have been put away. In short, this will make the Netherlands a less attractive haven and society will be spared some inconvenience and criminality.
Marlies: Pity you are hoping the Netherlands will become less attractive to refugees. I can't help getting the feeling you see the majority of refugees as above all a nuisance, whereas we are talking here about people who have a hard life anyway, whether they are illegal or not.