Van der Burg is very concerned about the high asylum influx: ‘Something to worry about’

High influx of asylum seekers, closing reception locations and judges who reject the approach to nuisance causes: the setbacks are piling up for State Secretary Van der Burg of Asylum.

Since the beginning of this year, approximately 30 percent more asylum seekers have entered our country every week than in the same period in 2023. “Extremely high,” the State Secretary said in the House of Representatives on Thursday. The influx usually increases further in spring and summer. “This is something to hold on to.”

Because a large reception location in Breda (500 people) will close on Friday, and the one in Biddinghuizen (1,400) will close next week, Van der Burg does not yet know where the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) will take the people next week. “We have made calls to the provincial management tables. We ask cooperation from municipalities to place status holders and asylum seekers in hotels. Three responded. We won’t make it with that.”

There is a good chance that Ter Apel will not remain below 2000

During the committee debate on asylum, Van der Burg initially received compliments that last week he managed to reduce the number of asylum seekers in Ter Apel to less than 2,000. But the State Secretary quickly makes it clear that this is far from a structural solution. “We succeeded because we did something that we should not have done: we brought people back to Biddinghuizen even though we knew that location had to be empty on March 14.”

Although the dispersal law has been passed, provinces and municipalities still have until the end of the year to make plans for new structural asylum seekers’ centers. That offers no relief at the moment. There seems to be a good chance that Ter Apel will no longer be able to accommodate the new arrivals next week, causing the number of 2,000 to be exceeded again.

Bad week due to judge’s rulings

Van der Burg had a bad week anyway. The judge dismissed the nuisance approach with the process availability location (pbl) in Ter Apel. There is no legal basis for the extent to which the freedom of asylum seekers is restricted in that location, the judge said. The pbl is temporarily closed. “The COA is considering an appeal. In the meantime, I am looking at how we can reopen the PBL in some form.” The PBL program may then need to be adjusted. “If it can’t be done the way it should be, then it should be done the way it can be done.”

He will come to Westerwolde a week from Monday to consult with deputy mayor Leendert Klaassen about other measures to combat nuisance and support Ter Apel. The possibilities are limited. Ter Apel’s great desire to spread nuisance perpetrators across the country is ‘extremely difficult’ given the lack of shelters, according to the State Secretary.

Blood from under the nails

The State Secretary is at least as grumpy about the award of compensation to an Iraqi who caused serious nuisance and was placed in isolation in the enforcement and supervision location (htl) in Hoogeveen. “These are people who pull the blood from under the nails of COA employees. People in regular asylum seekers’ centers misbehave so much that they are taken to the HTL and there they misbehave so much that they are put aside. Of course we will appeal here.”

The State Secretary is hitting walls. The injustice of people who abuse the system and terrorize COA employees, local residents and other asylum seekers makes him furious. Or as he puts it: “I am quite passionate about this.” But when he tries to fight injustice, pushing the boundaries of the law, he is pushed back by the legal system itself.

The House does criticize his approach. While GroenLinks-PvdA accuses him of making a constitutional mess and thus not helping the residents of Ter Apel, Forum for Democracy calls on him to simply terminate all those international treaties. But the passion with which Van der Burg expresses his anger about bad apples that frustrate the asylum system evokes respect from left to right.

“I enjoyed the State Secretary,” says Mona Keijzer (BBB).