In the Netherlands there is a system known as ongewenstverklaring or translated as ‘declaration of undesirability’.  Even when people are living in the Netherlands legally since they were eight months old, they can still be send out of the country 24 years later, what happened to Rachid el Sallami. R

Rachid doesn’t know much about the Moroccan culture and language and is therefore having a really hard time to fit in. He moved from Morocco to the Netherlands under the ‘family reunion’ legislation. Being involved in some criminal activities made him shift from criminal law to Dutch immigration law. An ongewestverklaring is followed after a mayor offence which is sentenced with a custodial period of three or more years. Another motive for an ongewenstverklaring could be being an immediate, clear and big danger for the public order. Another explanation for an ongewenstverklaring is committing several criminal offences during an illegal stay in the Netherlands, e.g. ignoring compulsory registration. For that reason these people need to sign the ongewenstverklaring which makes them illegal stayers in the Netherlands . They are obliged to leave the Netherlands immediately. Therefor they can’t live their normal lives and are bound to get ‘on the streets’. If their illegal stay is noticed they can be kept in custody with a maximum of 6 months. After the custodial period, the  person declared undesirable can be displaced from the Netherlands under the terms of having a known identity, nationality and matching travel documents.

The IMD (Immigration and Naturalisation Service) takes the national interests (public order and national security) and the interests of the person and its family into account when deciding to apply an ongewenstverklaring. In 2011 1.419 people were declared undesired.  If the IMD decides to apply the ongewenstverklaring, then article 67 of the Vreemdelingenwet (Immigration Law) 2000 applies. The ongewenstverklaring can be suspended temporarily if the family situations are in certain conditions. Two other reasons are that the person must testify in court or has to show up at his/her own trial. The ongewenstverklaring is active in the whole Shengen area. This means that the person will be registered in the Schengen Information System (SIS) and therefor will he/she be rejected at every Schengen border. Staying in or returning to the Netherlands is there for punishable. Return is only legal if the ongewenstverklaring is removed by the Minister of Security and Justice under article 68. After ten years the declaration can be removed from people who committed a violent or drugs offence. If the person after ten years is still a danger for the national security, this period can be suspended. Theoretically the ongewenstverklaring has an undetermined duration. Most people who committed other minor offences will be able to re-enter the Netherlands in five years. If the person was in the Netherlands unlawfully or committed crimes falling under the Immigration law, this time period is one year. EU-citizens in the Netherlands can also get an ongewenstverklaring in case of a felony or a history of several small offences . Persons from outside the EU and Switzerland have a different regulation, namely an inreisverbod.

This system of ongewenstverklaringen is only putting itself into motion by taking opportunities from people to build on a better future. Instead of helping those people in trouble they are abandoned.  This  shows the weakness of the Dutch immigration system, namely the fact that the youngsters couldn’t stay away from criminal activities which can be seen as a consequence of failed integration. They are the ones punished for that but it’s the fault of the state for not securing the environment and future of the foreigners.       

By sending them back, you’re only moving their problems around,                                                                                                                                   without solving them.       

The state should focus on education, health systems and employment for the foreigners, to make sure they won’t fall into criminality as a last resort. In this way, these people could stay in the Netherlands, with their friends and family, instead of going to a country they hardly even know. Like Rachid, many others feel like an outsider in their country of origin because they don’t know the language and mentality. They feel Dutch, follow Dutch news, sports and speak to their Dutch friends. They won’t never really fit in their new home country. The money which is now spend on keeping the ongewenstverklaarden in custody could be used to improve their situation in the Netherlands.

Taking someone’s passport may sound like a good deterrence for committing crimes but it turns out that many people (1,410 in 2011) are still willing to take that risk..