Belgium: Illegal immigrant actions

Across Belgium protest actions by illegal immigrants are gathering speed. While in the US they marched, in Belgium they’re busy taking over churches (pictures available on the Brussels Journal). Apparently, Belgian law does not hold in such places.

Meanwhile, another church had been “taken over” in Marche-en-Famenne (in the Belgian province of Luxembourg), with the permission of the priest. “I do not know how many people we’re talking about and where they come from, but everything occurred with dialogue. The most important is that we welcomed them, open our doors and offered them a place in the church”.

There are 3 such churches in Flanders and in Gent alone there are 4,363 illegal immigrants who demand resident permits. According to Luc Van Looy, Bishop of Gent, they only want the law to be more efficient and better applied. Minister of the Interior Dewael, though, is not willing to budge. He says it is not a matter of applying the law as most of the illegal immigrants who are taking part in the demonstrations and hunger strikes can’t be even considered for asylum or given permit by law. Most haven’t applied for a permit or started the procedures.

It is therefore interesting to note that the total number of asylum requests in Belgium is going down, with only 870 requests this past April. In 2000 there were 42,000 asylum requests altogether while in the past three years the number has gone down to 15,000-17,000.

Sources: Standaard 1, 2, 3 (Dutch)

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