- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2005

From combined dispatches

AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands announced plans yesterday to limit immigration of young people from the Dutch Antilles and Aruba unless they are working or studying in order to limit what it sees as an influx of criminals from the Caribbean.

The Dutch Cabinet agreed on measures to clamp down on 18- to 24-year-olds from the poverty-stricken islands, which together with the mainland Netherlands make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the government said.

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk, who is also behind the center-right government’s plan to repatriate 26,000 failed asylum seekers, said many young Antilleans thought that the Netherlands was ?the land of milk and honey.?

?People who don’t stand a chance in the Antilles also won’t stand a chance in the Netherlands,? Dutch news agency ANP quoted her as saying, adding that she was convinced the plans were not in conflict with the Dutch constitution or European laws.

Mrs. Verdonk said that more than a third of the 131,000 people from the Dutch Antilles and Aruba living in the Netherlands were under the age of 20. Of those ages 15 to 24, 42.5 percent were unemployed.

Unemployment in the Netherlands rose to 7 percent in the first quarter this year.

The plans include sending Antilleans and Arubans found guilty of crime in the Netherlands back to the islands. Mrs. Verdonk said one in nine Antilleans 12 to 24 years old had been convicted of a crime, compared with the average for a Dutch youth of one in 40.

The total population of the chain of islands that makes up the Dutch Antilles is about 200,000 and Aruba’s population is about half that. Residents of both hold Dutch passports.

The Antilles, once a center for the Dutch slave trade, have been an autonomous part of the kingdom of the Netherlands since 1954. Aruba became a separate part of the kingdom in 1968.

The new measure requires young Dutch Caribbean citizens to find a job or begin studies within three months of arrival in the Netherlands or face deportation. They will also have to have a legal guardian in the Netherlands.

The measure was expected to win easy approval in parliament, where a majority has been calling for such action for a long time. If approved, it will be applied retroactively from yesterday.

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