Statewatch article: RefNo# 27828
Netherlands: Police raids on migrant community spark little public outrage
Statewatch Bulletin; vol 17 no 2 July 2007
On 16 June 2007, Dutch police raided a concert by a popular West African musician in the migrant neighbourhood in south-east Amsterdam, arresting 111 of the 250 guests. One hundred and three of those arrested, who are all undocumented migrants of West African origin, were detained whilst their legal status was assessed, 70 were then issued with deportation orders two days after their arrest. Ten are awaiting criminal prosecution before being deported for carrying false identity documents. 41 were released because they have legal residency status. The raids were followed by several house raids and a raid on an internet café, all targeting African migrants.

This is one of several immigration raids in the Netherlands this year which are starting to spread unrest in the migrant community for fear of arbitrary arrest operations leading to deportation. Further raids took place early this year in Utrecht and Rotterdam. It is notable that police are targeting the few safe havens that are left for undocumented migrants in the Netherlands, apparently in an attempt to spread fear amongst the community and show them that they can regard no place as safe. On 9 January this year, the IND (immigration services) entered a church in Rotterdam arresting several Brazilian undocumented migrants, saying that they had "received a tip that illegal migrants would be present"; at least one 40-year-old woman was deported to Brazil 10 days after her arrest.

In April this year, immigration police arrested three refugees at their workplace: they were cooking every Tuesday for a living wage in a solidarity café supporting undocumented migrants and run by the refugee charity Stil. The project was financially supported by the local municipality. In Amsterdam, police used immigration law powers to raid a music venue frequented by African migrants. The reasons given for the raid was an alleged hunt for "internet fraud criminals". In the northern city of Leeuwaarden, the pretext of a raid earlier this year was alleged criminal activities, even though the raid did not lead to criminal charges.

During the raid in Amsterdam, as one white man present reported, police let the white people go without checking their identity, whilst checking the documents of all black people and detaining all without papers. Rather than causing widespread concern at such racist police operations, so far protest has been limited to the Green and liberal fraction in the local Amsterdam city council, some lawyers and migrant rights organisations. African migrants held a silent picket in the city council but have expressed fear of arrest. In most news discussion forums, the response was supportive of the police action and anti-immigrant sentiments were paramount, all of them conflating immigration and crime.

Although raids criminalising migrants are not new to Holland, with stop and search powers extended in 2002 and a series of police raids against Ukrainian and Bulgarian workers in late 2002 (Statewatch, Vol. 13 no 1), immigration raids appear to have gained a new dimension with the last government under late immigration minister Rita Verdonk (Volkspartij voor Vrijheid en Democratie, VVD), who actively promoted and was successful in implementing a quota for police to arrest and detain undocumented migrants. The so-called prestatiecontract (performance contract), signed between police and the justice ministry, also gives police forces extra "bonuses" if they arrest undocumented migrants. The contract says that police are expected stop and check identity papers of at least 40,000 migrants and arrest 11,883 undocumented migrants in 2007 alone. This target was apparently calculated as being 5%-10% of undocumented migrants estimated (by the government, based on unnamed sources) to live in the Netherlands.

Despite the fact that immigration raids have happened in the past and they have now been made more concrete with a quota, the Amsterdam<

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