Statewatch article: RefNo# 6683
Raids criminalise migrants
Statewatch bulletin, vol 13 no 1 (Jan-Feb 2003)
In recent months, Holland has seen a series of large-scale immigration raids. The first two took place in The Hague and Rotterdam and the media was invited. This created a spectacular event which served to act as a deterrent to potential immigrants and as a threat to those in Holland. It was intended to demonstrate to the Dutch public that the authorities were “doing their job”. A series of raids followed in Amsterdam that focused on immigrants from Bulgaria, Romania and other Balkan countries. The raids were characterised by a deployment of a large police force, the stigmatisation of the immigrants and a lack of legal aid and adequate judicial scrutiny.
The first raid took place on Wednesday 4 September 2002. Eighty two people from Bulgaria were arrested and deported the following morning. On the Wednesday evening, police raided 23 houses in the Schilderswijk and Transvaal neighbourhoods in The Hague. The raids were carried out by a special police team, the city council and the border police. The mayor of The Hague, W. Deetman, announced that there will be similar actions in the future against "the illegal criminal circle".
In contrast to the stigmatisation of the immigrants as criminals, most of the deported Bulgarians were working in the horticulture business in het Westland (south-west Holland), the hotel and catering service and the cleaning industry. Most of these workers are employed for ten to twelve hours a day for about 35 to 40 Euro.
Until the mid-1990s, employers in het Westland mainly hired illegal workers from Turkey and Morocco but they changed to Eastern European workers, who are cheaper: they are paid 3 to 4 Euro an hour in comparison to 6 to 7 Euro an hour for workers from the Mediterranean countries. Another change is that since the implementation of the Linking Act, immigrant workers are dependent on "job agencies", which act as intermediaries between the employer and the workers, because the employers do not want to risk being caught by the WIT, (Westland Intervention Team, in which the Work Inspection Authority, the Tax Agency, the Public Prosecutor's Office, several social service offices, various agencies on workers insurance's and the foreign police work together). In 2001, WIT raided 451 of the 3,000 horticulture companies in het Westland as well as 218 "job agencies". Workers say these checks are most intense in September and October when there is not much work. Some workers feel that the employers call the Work Inspection Authority to get rid of them and workers from Bulgaria commented that if they demand their wages then most employers call the police to get arrested and deported.
A week after the much publicised raids and deportations, the issue created headlines again when it was reported that most of the Bulgarian deportees had returned to Holland. Most of them are members of Bulgaria's Turkish minority, for whom there is little future in their own country (34% of the young are unemployed). The raid was organised in such a way that no legal aid could be provided and it was not verified if people really came from Bulgaria or if their status was illegal or not.
On Wednesday 13 November 2002, another charter flight deported 115 Bulgarians who lived in Rotterdam and The Hague. Twelve women were arrested on Saturday, the other people were arrested in the days leading up to Wednesday. Those deported were made up of 76 men, 36 women and three children. According to Mr Schoof, the director of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND), the flight made a stop in France and the passports of the deportees were withheld from them for a year. On 17 November, Colonel Grigorov from the Bulgarian border police said that 33% of the 7,099 people deported to Bulgaria had not got their passports back.
That the raids seem to be staged for publicity was confirmed in an interview with the IND director Schoof. He commented that the Immigration and Naturalisation Service was called three weeks<

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