de koppelingswet

the Linking Act, coping-stone of the Aliens policy, end 1995

short explanation of the Linking Act, end 1995

de koppelingswet

The Linking Act

coping-stone of the Aliens policy

For the last years the Aliens policy has been made stricter in every aspect. Stricter rules for application of family-reuni- fication, 'gate-checks' at Schiphol, mobil surveillance of foreigners at the borders, 'limited' identification duty.
These are only a few examples of measures taken to 'discoura- ge' asylum-seekers and immigrants to come to the Netherlands.

Soon the parliament will take a new step in the closure of the Netherlands: the Linking Act, an Act which will link different computersystems which register foreigners.
The 'right' to nearly all welfare facilities will be directly linked to status of residence. By linking all government computersystems with that of the foreigners police, the go- vernment wants to increase the control over foreigners. Civil servants will be used as an extension piece of the foreigners police in the checking of foreigners. Black and colored people and people with a 'strange' name will be checked much more often than before. In principal the checks will take place at all facilities, both of national government, the community council, social security insurances and organisations of employees. The Linking Act will exclude all people with a less than perfect status of residence from the right of those facilities, but also those who are still in procedure, are tolerated or non-expulsible, will be excluded.

The Linking Act: exaggerated, dangerous and racist

The consequences of the Linking Act will mainly come down on the shoulders of migrant communities. Through the restrictions of the Aliens policy the last few years, many people are on the balance of legal residence. The Linking Act creates a group of people who reside here but are not allowed to use (welfare) facilities. In 1992 the Social Security Service of The Hague published a report about "Life, living and labor of illegal foreigners in The Hague." This showed that immigrants without a residence permit were strongly dependent on each other or fellow-countrymen who live here legally. The first reception, helping to find work and a place to live and sup- port during periods of unemployment is all arranged among themselves.

Besides this the checks will have a strong influence on the position of immigrants. With the Identification Bill immi- grants already have a bigger chance to be checked, with the Linking Act an administrative apartheid will arise. Discri- mination on the basis of appearance and color seems inevita- ble. Research in to the use of welfare facilities by illegal foreigners, by Clermonts, van der March and Terweijden in 1990, showed strong differences in the way the institutions work. In one place checks of nationality took place on the basis of a suspicion that the applicant didn't have the Dutch nationality, this suspicion was based on appearance. In other places civil servants systematically asked for identification. Not all offices asked for residence permits of suspected non- dutch people. Where it did happen it was exceptional that someone didn't meet the requirements.

Consequence of the Linking Act will be that immigrants without a residence permit and tolerated refugees, whose residence is reviewed every year, will be isolated further. Instead of creating understanding for their position, the politicians increase the lack of it. Less than now the specific situation of the people involved will be taken in to account. The Linking Act is an exaggerated law. One of the myths about illegals is the presumed misuse of welfare facilities. In practice most illegal immigrants contribute to the Dutch economy. To check a very small group of people an Act is introduced which will work out very badly for a lot of people. Civil servants will play an important role in the checking of status. The strange situation will occur that people, who chose to work in care-, education- or welfare sector, will have to do a repressive task as well. As is showed in this newsletter many people in those professions have a problem with that. Which teacher will be able to send a child from school after 4 years and which doctor will stop treating a patient. With the Linking Act the government builds a society of traitors. A mentality will rise in which it is normal to exclude and report others.

Coping-stone of the Aliens policy

Control, command and expulsion are the magic words of the Aliens policy at the moment, a policy which has been build since the end of the eighties. With the agreement of Schengen the member-states started to adopt a general asylum policy. Common visa's, outer border checks, fines for air companies who transport people without documents, boarding checks in counties where many 'asylumseekers without a chance' come from. All these measures make it increasingly difficult for refugees to enter Europe. In the same time an inflation of status took place. The status of refugee is given to hardly anyone; the tolerated status (person with exceptional leave to remain) was formalised with the Aliens Act of 1994; the pos- sibility of appeal was abolished for asylumseekers (later it was again introduced in a limited way); special courts for foreigners were set up. These measures had as goal to effec- tuate the Aliens policy. Coping-stone will be the, soon to open, 'removal' centre in Ter Apel. Besides the new iron curtain at the Oder/Neisse border, between Germany and Poland, and the militarisation of the Southern borders of Europe, the internal control has been integrated as well. In most countries a Law on identification was already existent, the Netherlands gently complied. In 1994 the 'limited' iden- tification duty was introduced, especially meant to intensify the internal supervision of foreigners. To execute this super- vision mobile brigades of the Marechausse (military border police) have been installed. In 1995 800 extra police officers were placed at the foreigners police. One of their main goals is to work with the Foreigners Administration System (VAS). The VAS has already been introduced in the whole of the Netherlands. It is a control and registration system, most suited for the execution of the Linking Act. In streetchecks the police is now able to check information immediately.

Exclude, already excluded

The discussion about the exclusion of immigrants without a residence permit has been going on for 17 years. Through the years proposals have been made, of which most are now in effect.
First it was the exclusion from WW (unemployment benefit) and WWV (new unemployment benefit act), a couple of years later a proposals was made to exclude illegal foreigners from legal aid.
In 1986 the government wanted to extend the control of status of residence to the offices of national and local government. This Bill was soon known as the 'Pass Laws', a reference to the apartheid system in South-africa. Civil servants would have to check every foreigner. But would it not be obvious that these checks would be performed on the basis of appear- ance? Especially organisations of immigrants protested against the racist basis, amongst others they organised a demonstra- tion, in which 20,000 people took part, most of them immi- grants. Pressured by the protests the under-secretary of the ministry of justice suggested to exercise the control through the Local Basic Administration (GBA). This plan met resistance from the ministry of internal affairs. The function of control would do the GBA no good. Finally the Bill was terminated, not only because of the resistance against it, but also because of Schengen. After the agreement of Schengen the Bill would have to be changed again.

The principal of 'linking' status of residence to the use of welfare and other facilities has found firm ground, in the mean time. With a few changes the Bills for Social Provision of Work (WSW) and the WW, now contain a clause that immigrants without a valid residence permit are excluded. In the time of the changes of these Bills there was a lot of criticism from the Dutch center Foreigners (NCB). Just like with the 'Pass Laws', these controls would be discriminating. Civil servants would have to judge who to check on appearance. Secondly it only concerned a small group of illegal foreigners. Finally the NCB thought that civil servants should not be active in tracing illegals, this being an improper task to their jobs. During the parliamentary discussions the social-democrat PvdA introduced a motion against the Bill:"specific regulation for foreigners are not necessary taking in to account the conditi- ons which unemployed workers have to meet. The proposal is discriminating to specific groups."
Since 1991 every foreigner is systematically checked on status of residence when applying for social security. By means of standardised forms foreigners are also checked at the foreig- ners police. By the end of 1992 a request for a social-fiscal number was also checked. All requests are first sent to the foreigners police, who verify the residence permit.


The exceptions to the principal of exclusion in the proposal of the Linking Act are restricted to acute medical care, legal aid and education for children under the age of 16. Pressured by actions and statements, under-secretary Schmitz stated in an interview with Binnenlands Bestuur (23/2/96) that schools won't have to perform the task of control. "Schools will not be obliged to send 17 year and older illegal children from school, the Linking act is not meant as a witch-hunt for illegals." In the mean time schools have to fulfil so many requirements of registration that children without a residence permit are likely to drop out.
The exception of legal aid is partly fake. According to Arno van Deuzen of the legal aid group of the labor union FNV, one is not entitled to free legal aid if you are not registered in the GBA. With the cleaning of these files, legal aid for illegals will disappear.
About medical care there is still discussion within the cabi- net. When is something acute? A fund of 11 million guilders is supposed to take care of this, but only in Amsterdam expenses for non-insured run up to 14 million a year. With the Linking Act this will only increase, because those illegals which still pay duties and thus have health-insurance, will be excluded from that. The most acute problems will be paid for but what about necessary help like g.p.'s and maternity care?