de koppelingswet

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

short explanation of the Linking Act, end 1995

de koppelingswet

In july this year the long-expected 'linking act' will have to be implemented. The act intends to exclude illegal foreigners from using community services. In actual practice the result will be that the control of foreigners, presently carried out by the military police, the (aliens) police, and the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Social Services and Employment, will be extended to administrative organizations. The practical implementation will be carried out by means of the Aliens Administrative System (AAS)

The exclusion of illegal foreigners from social services has been given political priority for years now. The Zeevalking Commission advised the Lubbers government in 1991 to increase the control on foreigners to include administrative controls. The government was slightly hesitant about increasing street controls, but their fears have been superseded in the meantime, as proven by the establishment of the Mobile Aliens Control unit of the Military police (473) and the extension of the aliens police (800).

In today's fashionable muscular terminology about fraud and misuse of social services the legislators set to work to 'discourage illegal residence'. The right of social services and employment should be linked directly to a legal residence in the Netherlands.
At the end of 1991 it became impossible to receive a social security number without a legal residence permit. Since 1981 it has been impossible for illegal foreigners to claim job assistance and since 19.. it has been obligatory to control people's residential status when they apply for welfare.

System of exclusion

Besides employee insurances, such as unemployment insurance, disablement insurance and health law, illegal foreigners can no longer make use of social insurances, such as family allowance, general social security, old age pensions and the general disablement act.
Besides social security, illegal foreigners are also excluded from individual rent subsidy, residential rights, the rights to study after the age of 16 and medical insurance. It is remarkable that the social security act has also been changed. Even in the case of emergencies (for example the Bijlmermeer plane disaster) illegal foreigners are no longer entitled to a benefit.

The group of people excluded is getting bigger. Those seeking asylum who are tolerated, because they cannot be extradited due to the situation in their own country, are also excluded from the public services.
Formally this group is entitled to be in the Netherlands, only materially they are not. Chances are that these people end up in criminal groups to make a living.

Points of criticism

1. exaggerated legislation

It shows from inquiries into the misuse of social services by illegal foreigners carried out over some years that hardly any misuse occurs. It turns out from many analyses that misuse of social services by illegal foreigners is a rarity. Among the group of tolerated seekers of political asylum (who are still entitled to social benefits) only relatively few people receive welfare. The Amsterdam Regioplan Bureau carried out a survey of social benefits among tolerated foreigners: only 12 percent of all tolerated seekers of asylum (an estimated 26,000 people) receives social benefits (NRC, 20 August 1994).
It shows from calculations made by the Ministry of Welfare, Health and Cultural Affairs that the implementation of the 'linking act' will produce a total of 11 million guilders. In fact, by attacking a fake problem a mountain is made of a molehill. The ratio between the large number of controls and the limited misuse is disproportional.
2. Civil servants acting as criminal investors

During the late eighties, proposals for altering the Aliens Act were greatly objected against, as this would extend the controls to ordinary civil servants. The so-called ID-law included the proposal that the control of illegal foreigners was to take place at the counters of public services offices. The 'linking act' proposes the same thing in fact. Civil servants end up in a controlling system which is not of their own choosing. This type of policing goes two ways. Not only is a number of civil servant forced to check whether somebody lives in the Netherlands illegally, but on the instigation of the Minister of Justice, a number of them is also forced to inform the aliens police about this.
In fact, the entire legislature is nothing but a means to fight illegal residence with the help of social security laws. The Social Security Bank, which implements Child Allowance, considers excluding illegal foreigners as a violation of a basic element of the various social insurances, namely the protection of all the residents of the Netherlands against (financial) risks such as old age and decease.
It is noteworthy that the proposals take as their starting point the exclusion from the rights of insurance, rather than the right of welfare. This actually results in illegal work becoming cheaper because no premiums need to be paid any longer.
3. Racist results

The controls will take place by means of the Aliens Administration System. All foreigners residing in the Netherlands have been registered in this system. The AAS is presently used in 5 police districts and before the end of the year all regions will have to be integrated. A great effort is made to link the system with the Local Basis Administration, the intention being that the control will be carried out via this LBA eventually.
The opposition against the notorious ID-law of the late eighties also applies to the 'Linking act'. Again, the decision to control somebody is mainly taken on the grounds of this person's appearance, name or other characteristics. The consequences are far-reaching, many people will be forced to identify themselves extensively. They will have to identify themselves before each and every civil servant. It is also quite unclear how and when these control have to take place. Do people have to be controlled each month, will a computerized registration system be implemented?
4. Further marginalization of illegal and tolerated seekers of asylum

Illegal foreigners and tolerated seekers of asylum will be even further marginalized in this society due to this law. They may end up in criminal circles easily. Even in emergencies no help will be given. Especially for people requiring medical help the situation will become distressing. During the 10-year anniversary of the organization for free medical assistance, it was announced that the Ministry of Welfare, Health and Cultural Affairs will reserve some 15 million guilders, money economized on article 84 of the Welfare Act. This sum could be used for acute medical help. A drop in the ocean considering that some 10 million guilders is spent on medical expenses in Amsterdam alone.