Chapter 1, control, made to measure

Chapter 2, administrative apartheid

Chapter 3,Mobil Surveillance of Foreigners

Chapter 4, Own people, first or last?

Chapter 5, Exclusion as an ideological instrument

Chapter 6, And technology, it grew on ...

Administrative Apartheid

Different treatment of coloured people and immigrants does not only occur at the foreigner-police and the Military Police (Marechaussee). Within other governmentservices the approach to non-white people is often also discriminating. Many govern- ment institutions have to check people on valid residence permits.

The Linking Act will extend these controls because the link between the use of facilities and status of residence will be extended. The purpose of linking the status of residence to the use of welfare facilities is twofold. Firstly it should discourage people who are not allowed to stay here, secondly it is an extra controlmechanism for all foreigners residing in the Netherlands.


The discussion about the exclusion of illegals, of welfare facilities has been going on for 17 years. Through the years new proposals have been made and for the greatest part have been realised. First the WW and the WWV (Laws of Unemployment) were made inaccessible for illegal foreigners, a few years later proposals were made to exclude them from legal counsel, without result.
The definite turning point came with the agreement of Schen- gen. In this agreement it was decided that the bordercontrols between the member-states would be abolished. In 1986 the government proposed to extend the control on status of resi- dence to the counters of government- and community-institu- tions. A law which soon came to be known as 'the pass law' ('pasjeswet': in reference to the law in South-Africa). Civil servants would have to check every foreigner on legality of their residence. It was very obvious that that would be judged mainly by looking at appearance. Especially organisations of immigrants pointed at the racist effects, which, among others, led to a big demonstration of 20,000 people (1986), most of them immigrants. Pressurised by the protests the state-secre- tary of Justice, Korte-van Hemel, suggested to do the controls through the Community Basic Administration (GBA). This plan met with resistance from the Ministry of Home Affairs. The function of control would not do the GBA any good. Finally the law was put in the refrigerator. Not only because of the resistance to it, but with Schengen coming on, it would have to be changed again within a short while.
In 1989 the government appointed the Commission Zeevalking to largely define the policy towards illegal foreigners. The commission had to direct itself especially to 'compensating measures for the opening of the borders'. A great deal of the proposals (limited identification duty, higher penalties on illegal work and more efficient foreigners-police) have been introduced. Within the commission Zeevalking the idea of exclusion of illegal foreigners from different facilities, scored high. Most important argument was 'to relieve the supervision of foreigners, so that this will be executable'. It would have to be 'judged from facility to facility if exclusion would be useful'. Next to that it would have to be 'tested what the possible negative effects for people of minority groups and the policy towards minorities would be'. In her reaction the government endorsed these testpoints.

technocratia strikes

Meanwhile the 'technocrating' of society took a big flight. The 'privacy-debate' was overtaken by technological develop- ment which makes it possible to link systems of different government-services. Controls on, among others, social secur- ity, taxes and study grants were made easier through the linking of these systems. Central registration systems like GBA and the VAS (Alien Administrative System) were accepted with hardly any resistance worth mentioning. Combatting fraud and crime were the magic words in the acceptance of these excessive means of control. Every time the emphasis was put on people who do not have it easy, anyway: students, unemployed and illegal foreigners.
In the discussion about the linking of residence-permit to the use of welfare facilities, the fraud argument has been used since year and day. The control itself is represented as not an important issue, but the prevention of misuse of facilities is the reason for this linking. That way it is easier to sell to the outside world.
The past years the suggestion has been made that illegal foreigners massively misused social security. It seemed as if the whole of the welfare facilities in the Netherlands was open to illegals, from the cradle to the grave, once they had registered in the Register of Population. These stories con- sistently ended with a call for more control and a final closure of collective facilities.
The reality is a lot more differentiated though. A lot of research in the past few years into the misuse of welfare facilities by illegals, show that fraud or misuse rarely takes place. P. Minderhoud and C. van Ouden studied the use of social facilities by illegals in the 4 big cities in 1985. On a total of 36,000 applications only 25 were of illegal foreig- ners. Drs. M.M.J. Aalberts, of the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) of the Ministry of Justice did research, in 1989, into the internal surveillance of foreig- ners in the Netherlands. This showed that half a percent of the group of illegals, with known income sources, had a social security benefit, for unclear reasons. The workgroup Uhl, assigned by the Lubbers-Kok cabinet, who studied the use of social security benefits by illegals, came to a similar per- centage. In 1992 the Social Security Service of The Hague published a report called: 'Life, living and work of the illegal foreigners in The Hague'. This showed that illegals are strongly dependent on fellow countrymen who are legally residing here. Both the reception when arriving, help when looking for work and a place to live as support during periods of unemployment, are usually taken care of, amongst each other. Social Security fraud can be judged as what it is: a fairy-tale.

Creating a scene

In the period between the publishing of the advice of the commission Zeevalking and the oncoming Linking Act, a lot has changed. As said, a number of measures against illegals have come into existence, but even more important, there has been a big shift in the thoughts about illegals. Especially in the social-democrat party (PvdA), there has been a significant change in attitude since 1992: from a policy of toleration to a policy of expulsion. Adapting to certain racist tendencies in society, politicians sought publicity more and more, with wild stories about illegals. Peper (social democrat, Mayor of Rotterdam), Kosto (social democrat and secretary of State of the Ministry of Justice till 1994), Kok (leader of the social democrat party and now leader of the government), Bolkestein (leader of the liberal party) and Krajenbrink showed them- selves from their worst side.
Reality was violated time after time, by spreading myths. Exaggerated stories about criminality and fraud, serving to scare people and make the climate ripe for harsh measures.

Linking, Exclusion

In the meanwhile the principal idea of 'linking' residence- permit to the use of facilities has found firm ground. In a number of changes of, for instance, the Law on Social Labour (WSW) and the Law on Unemployment (WW), a clause was entered that illegals would be excluded. At the time of changes of the WW and the IOAW there was a lot of criticism by the Dutch Centre of Foreigners (NCB). Just like with the Pass-law the controls would be discriminating: civil servants would have to judge by appearance or other ethnic features. Secondly it only concerned a very small group of immigrants, the illegal ones. Finally the NCB thought that civil servants should not get a task in the tracing of illegals, this would be improper to their job. During the parliamentary discussion the PvdA ente- red a motion against the law. 'Specific regulation for foreig- ners is not necessary, taking into account the conditions required of all unemployed people. The proposed is discrimi- nating for specific groups.'
Research from Clermonts, van der Marck and Terweyden (1990) in to the use of WW and IOAW by illegals, showed that there were strong differences in the way of working of different institu- tions. At one institution checks for nationality were made on the ground of appearance or when suspicion arose that the applicant did not have the Dutch nationality. Other depart- ments systematically asked for identification papers. But not all departments asked for a residence permit of non-dutch citizens. Where it did happen, only by exception someone did not qualify for the benefit.
Since 1991 every foreigner, when applying for social security, is systematically checked on his or her residence permit. By standardised forms, data is checked at the foreigners-services (VD). On 1-11-'91 a similar control was entered when applying for a social-fiscal number. All applications are, since then, first sent to the foreigners-service who verify the person's status.


In the past a number of studies have been done in to the effect of exclusion of non-white Dutch people. In many cases, where control on residence permit plays a role, problems arise. Different treatment and racism seem inevitably linked to controls.(2)

All studies show that controls have a discriminating nature. The selection, who to control and who not, is often based on 'colour', 'speech' and 'name'. In practice Dutch people, from Surinam origin, will have to show their papers at the social security service (Minderhoud en den Ouden, 1985). The social security service of Rotterdam checks, at their half yearly controls, the residence permits of all immigrants (Engberse). In a number of interviews with counsellors it appeared that at applications and allocations of housing, at the Social Secur- ity Bank and Studyfinancing, there were also checks on status of residence.

"The question: 'Can I see your passport?', is often asked, by many civil servants of many institutions, even when it is not strictly necessary.(..) They always say it is relevant, for example to establish someone's identity. To see who they are dealing with. I think a driving-licence is sufficient for that, but it appears it is not. I suspect they do that to check the residence permit, but I can not prove that." accor- ding to a lawyer." (Chapter 4, Clermonts)

In their studies into: 'residence rights and use of collective facilities by immigrants', Clermonts, Groenendijk and Havinga establish that control on status of residence creates a lot of trouble for legally residing immigrants and Dutch citizens with foreign appearance or name. The majority of the, in the Netherlands living, immigrants have a valid residence permit or are Dutch citizens. For a large group of people a lot of hinderance is created to be able to trace a very small group. An important problem which arises, is the fact that civil servants now have to perform a duty of which they have little knowledge, are not trained for and for which they have not chosen. Doubt about the correctness of information is one of the occurring problems. The computer always tells the truth. Old and dirty papers question its validity and to register after a holiday at the social security service are a couple of possible administrative apartheid features that loom up. When there is even the slightest grain of doubt, people are first sent to the foreigners-service, even when it concerns a permanent residence permit.

Besides the discriminatory effect of the controls the regula- tion often also implies an already existing, hidden form of racism.
Penninx studied in 1988, the access to the housing-market for immigrants. The distinction with allocating of houses was often very negative for immigrants. Their position was not taken into account. For example, Penninx mentioned the still existing vicious circle for family-reunification. To get the application in consideration, suitable housing is a strict demand. However suitable housing is only given when there is urgency, so only when the reunification has already taken place. It takes an enormous amount of arranging to break through this circle. Besides this, the supply and demand of the larger houses, where immigrants especially make use of, has not been attuned well, over the past few years. This has caused a shortage of large, affordable houses.
By establishing control on status of residence at different government-institutions, these act as an extra internal immi- gration control. The access to these services are made more difficult by different treatment and control. The pressure on non-white people takes disproportionate forms. With also the total identification duty, non-white people actually live in a permanent control-state. On the street, at work, when applying for different services: everywhere they can be checked. The possibility of control does not always mean that it will always happen. The threat itself can already be enough to limit people in their rights. Not only the factual exclusion, but also the threat of exclusion can be sufficient to scare off people. Research in the U.K. showed that people who had a right to social security did not apply out of fear for con- trols.

Linking Act

Although many institutions and services are already effec- tively closed for illegal foreigners, the government is, at the moment, preparing a new law which has to extend the exclu- sion. In the proposal that the Second Chamber of parliament is currently (half of 1996) debating, it is suggested to exclude all immigrants 'still in procedure'. This not only concerns the 'real' illegals, but also the persons with exceptional leave to remain, the technically difficult to expulse, etc. This Linking Act, as it is called, will have to be the coping- stone of the illegals-policy, together with a more effective expulsion-policy (the newly opened expulsion centre Ter Apel in april 1996).
Even more than the proposal of the commission Zeevalking, the Linking Act will breathe the atmosphere of an excessive con- trolsystem for all immigrants staying in the Netherlands for over three months.
Intention of the Linking Act is that the status of residence of immigrants will be checked in the future, at all services, also those on a community level. In spite of the fact that the government wants to exercise the control through the linking of different computersystems, the controls still will have a discriminatory nature. In practice either everyone will have to identify him/herself everywhere (which is not accounted for in the Act), or especially non-white people or people with a 'strange' name will have to identify themselves when they want to use a certain service. The government takes a further step in excluding people with the Linking Act. Even people with exceptional leave to remain and technically non-expulsable people will be excluded when the Linking Act is adopted. A category of people will arise, that can stay here, but is not allowed to use anything. The message is clear: You don not belong here!


1. A number of measures taken to counter illegal residence of foreigners are: identification duty, the Law on fake-mar- riages, heightening punishment on procuring labour for illegal foreigners etc.
2. Verblijfsrecht en gebruik van collectieve voorzieningen door immigranten. Lilian Clermonts, Kees Groenendijk en Tetty Havinga.


A woman applies for a residence permit, in first instance, she gets a positive decision, therefor she is eligible for hous- ing. She goes to the housing-association, there contact is made with the social security service and the foreigners- service to get an estimate about her status: will it be a temporarily or a permanent one. If it is the first then she is not eligible for housing, although she has a right to it. In that case she will have to wait in a reception centre. In the last case she will get a house. Fortunately her application is estimated as having chance.

Arteh is from Ethiopia, his procedure has ended but he defi- nitely can not go back to Ethiopia. In spring 1995 he goes into hiding and from then on leads a quiet life, far away from the police. For the first time, he is being supported by the group where he lives. When this ends he is looking for work to maintain himself. Beginning of june 1996 he goes to a Turkish sewing-shop. He just works there when there is a raid, and he is arrested. He is in a police cell for a week and then imprisoned in Willem II in Tilburg. He is technically non- expulsable: Ethiopia does not take back refugees who do not return voluntarily. Arteh has as prospect months of detention, after which he will probably be dumped on the street.