You know when the biggest Dutch paper the Telegraaf opens up with a full cover page in red and black and bold letters screaming ‘THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE THESE NUMBERS ON CRIMINAL MIGRANTS IN THE NETHERLANDS’ that a debate, and maybe even a little bit of controversy, is going to ensue.

Is our picturesque Holland being overrun by hordes of vicious foreign criminals? Is our government in a conspiracy with the ‘asylum-industry’ to cover up these criminals? Is the sentence before this one extremely ridiculous?

 

Let’s have a humble (and possibly cynical) look at what the hell is going on with criminal migrants in the Netherlands and this whole debate.

#1 Criminal migrants in the Netherlands – they’re here

It would be easy to dispel the Telegraaf headlines and just carry on, especially when you’re living in a nice and decent Randstand bubble (hi there Utrecht, Amsterdam, Leiden and Haarlem!), and your only encounters with asylum seekers were at some hip food festival with that Syrian food truck. No, criminal migrants in the Netherlands are here and it sucks hard, especially for the decent people living next to these centers, must feel so shitty and feel like you’re abandoned by your own government – no cynicism in that one.

Some facts: nearly 10.000 asylum status holders were suspect of an offense in the first 9 months of 2016 (out of a group of 60.000 people). More than a 100 of them are facing a punishment of 6 years or more. And there are 183 ‘habitual offenders‘ on the list.

It’s also a nationality question, as it seems that the vast majority of these offenders are from safe countries: Albania, Georgia, Morocco and Algeria top this list.

This highlights the problem that all migrants are often grouped together when being criminalized. So there exists a group of criminals exploiting their migrant status and innocent migrants being criminalized. I get the feeling that the opposing sides are defending/attacking the wrong groups. On one side, there are the ultra paranoid foreign-phobic right wingers, and on the other side the free spirit tree hugging freedom for every soul hippies. Sensationalism all around! So what about the moderate cynics in this country?

#2 This news isn’t going away, and it’s not going to be balanced

Both 2015 and 2016 were filled with this kind of news, and I have a gut feeling that 2017 and 2018 aren’t going to be much different. And no, with this kind of news I don’t mean a nice accumulation of criminal stats, but screaming cover pages like the Telegraaf’s today and the incredibly cringe-worthy texts as ‘YOUR GOVERNMENT DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS’ – I mean really? Do you fall for that kind of stuff?

As for the ‘other side’ – you know the hippies of world peace of the Green Left and such aren’t that much better. These criminal migrants in the Netherlands are a real problem that needs attention and handling. Simply denying that this problem exists won’t make it go away (I’m looking at you Jesse runaway Klaver). So what is there to do about it?

3. Why aren’t these people expelled faster?

So you might think: “Arrest these criminal migrants in the Netherlands and deport them the day after. Problem solved!” But it doesn’t work like that in a constitutional state. Cases need to be made up, a trial has to be completed, a sentence has to be handed out, etc. – this all takes time and we really appreciate it all because not having fair trials and such sucks. However, you can feel the frustration with a cop in Drenthe when he catches a gang of Algerian asylum seekers red handed when thieving in the local grocery store.
So in order not to hinder expelling them a lot of times, charges against these criminals aren’t even filed. You can imagine the frustration of the victims. (Interestingly, we’re already putting refugees in jail)

There are also gangs of criminals, from safe countries, just roaming throughout Europe just bent on committing crimes and leaving again for another country when things get hot. They’re using the asylum centers as their ‘hub of operations’ and the understaffed police of these parts of our country have no idea what to do. (blendle link to that article here).

And finally, when all is said and done countries like Morocco and Algeria usually aren’t so keen to taking back these people. It makes extraditing them kind of difficult since polite countries like the Netherlands or Sweden just don’t stuff boats full of criminal migrants and send them back across the sea.

The only answer I see right now is more cooperation in the international arena and specifically with the EU to coordinate and apply real pressure to these countries that are not willing to take back their criminal migrants.

 

4. This is a complicated debate with many nuances

All of this sucks. And not only because it just sucks having (foreign) criminal migrants in the Netherlands, but also because it screws up a proper polite debate. And even more important, it also erodes public support for decently sheltering refugees – something which is non-negotiable for me personally.

Criminal migrants in the Netherlands

But as you can see the debate and issues are complex and intertwined, something that isn’t helped by headliners screaming that ‘THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T WANT YOU TO SEE THIS’ or by parties who just don’t want to discuss this issue. This is a real issue and desperately needs to be talked about more often.

Anyways, what do you think of all this? Feel free to pitch in, but please people – keep it clean and civil.