Minister: local ties key in asylum requests

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Asylum Minister Gerd Leers says he intends to take account of local interests in deciding whether to apply his discretionary powers to grant an asylum seeker a residence permit.

Interviewed on Dutch radio, Minister Leers said: “It’s not at all impossible for someone to be so integrated in a community that it would be terrible for him, and for those around him, to be taken away and be told: you have got to go. That terrible aspect is something I want to take account of.”

At present, the importance a local community attaches to whether an asylum seeker stays is not allowed to be considered when the minister decides if he can use his discretionary powers.

Mr Leers says he will inform parliament of his policy change in a few weeks’ time. Parliament, the minister added, doesn’t need to approve the move. The minister, Mr Leers argued, should be able to define his own discretionary powers, provided he does so in a “fair and consistent fashion” without allowing any room for arbitrariness. That, the minister went on to say, is the very reason why mayors are not allowed a say in the matter and only the minister has the authority to make a decision.

The move comes a few months before parliamentary elections are due to be held in September.


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