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A just migration policy: Five questions for Jasper van Dijk

6 October 2018

A just migration policy: Five questions for Jasper van Dijk

Promoting human dignity, equality and solidarity is our most fundamental principle. These values are poorly represented when you look at how refugees and other migrants are faring throughout the world. People traffickers earn huge amounts in organising life-threatening crossings to Europe, with thousands drowned as a result. People who lack the funds to pay a trafficker or who are not in a state of sufficient health to cross the sea in a small boat can't even take this risk. SP Member of Parliament Jasper van Dijk advocates a truly just migration policy.

What should happen, in the opinion of the SP?
Let me make one thing clear: the question of migration is complicated and doesn't have an easy answer. The findamental problem is that too little has been done to address the reasons why people migrate. Take the permanent war against countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. This war hasn't brought us any closer to peace, but has simply brought about more misery. Look also at the enormous might of multinationals such as Shell, which profit at the expense of people in Africa. Unfair trade means that countries there have no chance of standing up to the power of big capital, no chance to build their economies, while tax evasion is kept going at their expense. This has to change.

Recently I've spoken with a lot of experts, from professors of migration law to people working with refugees. Everyone agrees that the current situation is unacceptable. Since 2015 some 12,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean, which makes it one of the world's deadliest borders. We've all seen the appalling images. People traffickers earn a great deal of money because people pay huge sums to make the deadly dangerous crossing. That has nothing to do with justice.

How do the other parties see the situation?
In Parliament almost all parties make the right noises about addressing the 'root causes' of migration, but in practice they generally maintain policies of inequality, unfair trade and permanent war. That's certainly true of the government. Because of this, involuntary and forced migration continue to exist. It's completely antisocial that people the have to travel with the aid of people traffickers the world over in search of safety or a better future.

What would the SP do to prevent dangerous crossings?
Most refugees want to remain as close to home as possible, as in the region of their own country a related language is often spoken, the culture's more similar and the distance they have to travel obviously less, so far more should be invested in accommodating them. That means also investment in giving them some prospects, through education and employment, for instance. Moreover, that doesn't just mean looking at how we organise employment for the refugees, but also for people in the countries which take them in.

As for avoiding people having to look to traffickers to aid them in making the life-threatening crossing, in our view the possibility of conducting asylum procedures in the region needs to be looked into. As things stand people have to cross the Mediterranean before they can apply for asylum. Why don't we see whether people could do this prior to attempting the crossing? People who are in danger, but can't afford to pay a trafficker, could also be offered a safe haven. These places must of course meet international standards. In no instance should people be sent back to dangerous countries – the principle of non-refoulement. In this way it could be guaranteed that people would be accommodated in a humane fashion.

Who would be considered for asylum?
Our principles are clear: people who meet the requirements of the Treaty on Refugees have a right to asylum and should always be able to count on protection. These people have a right to adequate accommodation, preferably close to their home country, but if that isn't possible, then Europe, including the Netherlands, must take our fair share. I certainly don't approve of the right-wing approach of just sending refugees packing and doing nothing about the root causes of migration. We respect the Treaty on Refugees and the right to an asylum procedure, and we reject the idea of a Fortress Europe.

At the same time we need to be honest witj the people who, according to that treaty, don't qualify for a residence permit, people who want to come to Europe to live and work here, but who have no right to asylum, people who have wagered their life in a rickety little boat and must go back to a life without prospects. The American socialist Bernie Sanders summed it up best when he said that “Open borders policies are what right-wing parties like best, Just let everyone in, then labour will become cheaper and big capital will profit at the expense of the people. So I don't believe in it.”

The procedure must be short and adequate. If it's clear that they don't have a right to remain, then they must be returned as quickly as possible. It would be best if the procedure took place in the region, so that people don't have to make the life-threatening crossing.

Where do we go from here?
We have major criticisms of the European Union and the powers which Brussels is taking into its hands. But in relation to some things, such as migration, it's important that European countries cooperate. There has to be investment in decent accommodation, improved asylum procedures and a fair division of refugees. The European Parliament elections next year should therefore be an important moment. Will we vote for the status quo, or for a just migration policy?

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