Prime Councillor Alain Courtois’ statement does not commit the Brussels Communal College to anything, mayor Philippe Close said on Friday. “It was the Prime Councillor’s statement alone. We will not comment”, his spokesman said.
Mr Courtois (MR) says Brussels authorities see no reason non-asylum-seeking immigrants should be living in Maximilien Park. He says there have been complaints from residents. Most of the immigrants are just stopping off on their way to Great Britain, so there is no reason for them to stay near the Foreigner’s Office. The Councillor wants a three-step plan: anti-transit measures, illegal immigrants moved on (the State Secretary for Asylum and Immigration, Theo Francken, has always refused to open another Welcome Centre) and increased checks by local police.
“Residents need to take Maximilien Park back. The entire PS-MR Communal College thinks the situation will still be the same in five years if we just sit back and do nothing”, Mr Francken said. He spoke to L’Echo on Wednesday, along with Home Affairs Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA).
The State Secretary passed the buck to Brussels authorities on Friday. He called for the immigration hub and the distribution of food to end via Twitter. “We need daily police patrols and people to stop taking them in”, he said.
This doesn’t seem to scare the Citizen Platform. “Come and stop us. Catch us if you can. 45,000 people take in, transport, provide food to and support these people. 45,000 people that are more motivated than you’ll ever be. Good always triumphs in the end.”, activist Mehdi Kassou tweeted.
There have been numerous police operations against migrants in Maximilien Park over the last few years. Theo Francken caused indignation last year when he said he wanted to “clean up” the Park. Many non-governmental organisations and volunteers have been helping the immigrants living there since then.