Belgium in Brief: Anchored in Brussels

Belgium in Brief: Anchored in Brussels
Credit: Belga/TBT

Members of the Brussels Parliament are calling on Belgium’s Federal Government to set clear and uniform criteria for the regularisation of undocumented people.

Even though most of the tens of thousands of migrants living in Belgium without the right documents are currently in Brussels, it is the Federal Government that is tasked with the regularisation process.

Yet, there is no clear agreement on how it is decided who gets to stay and who doesn’t, which was made particularly clear when a group of some 400 migrants went on hunger strike for about two months last summer in a bid to obtain collective regularisation.

The strike ended when Secretary of State of Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi promised “concrete elements” that would allow a “significant part” of the hunger strikers to obtain legal regularisation.

Despite Mahdi’s promises, however, the process is not at all transparent now, and is still lacking set criteria for regularisation, Brussels MP for one.brussels Els Rochette told The Brussels Times.

Rochette called it “incomprehensible” that in sometimes near-identical cases, “one person receives negative advice while the other gets a positive response.”

On Flemish television, Mahdi stated that regularisation is meant to be “an exception procedure for people who are here illegally and for whom you very occasionally decide to ask for recognition,” and should not be used for people who “fulfil criteria like living here for a few years.”

However, these people have lived in Brussels for decades, speak the language(s), can get a work contract, and are, therefore “anchored here,” Rochette argued. “Their life is here now. They are part of our society and contribute. This cannot go on.”

More in-depth reporting of the latest developments by Lauren Walker can be found here and here.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Let @johnstonjules know (or @maithechini, since she wrote it today).

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