“Migrants are the engine of the economy” Richardson wants easier access to Dutch passports

POSTED: 10/23/13 7:36 PM

St. Maarten – “Migrants are the engine of the economy and they should be able to obtain a Dutch passport in an easier way,” Justice Minister Dennis Richardson is quoted as saying in an article that appeared in the Volkskrant yesterday.

“It is too crazy for words that in the Netherlands Bulgarians, Danes and Poles are able to travel in and out of the country freely but that we are obliged to keep out people from our region,” Richardson said. “Because the Netherlands as some sort of enclave has to be protected we are stuck with Dutch legislation that is not in the interest of our development.”

People who want to obtain a Dutch passport have to go through the standard naturalization process. That includes four exams in the Dutch language, while that language, according to the article in the Volkskrant, “is spoken by hardly anybody because English is the official language.”

That statement is obviously incorrect, because the constitution of St. Maarten identifies two official languages: Dutch and English.

According to the Volkskrant, the language test is the biggest stumbling block for those who want to obtain Dutch citizenship. “The language is not spoken, except by the political elite in its contacts with the Hague,” the Volkskrant claims.

The newspaper quotes Daily Herald journalist Alita Singh, “a journalist from Guyana and an example of migrants Richardson would love to bind to the island. The Volkskrant described the 33-year-old Singh as a volunteer at foundations that combat poverty and that protect the environment.

“In 1999 she emigrated from the village Beterverwachting near Georgetown in Guyana to Philipsburg. It appeared that the newspaper had hired at least ten people from Guyana. The island was emerging and the professionals for all kinds of sectors were hard to come by.”

Singh and her partner Rajesh Chintaman wanted to confirm their loyalty to St. Maarten by obtaining the Dutch nationality in 2010. Both sailed through five exams in the English language that dealt with the local society. Then they had to do four exams in the Dutch language and though Singh had followed a course in Dutch, she still failed.

“Who is able to foresee that the questions are posed in four or five different Dutch regional accents and that you are allowed to make only one mistake per exam?” Singh is quoted as saying in the article.

Participants in the naturalization exam experience the Dutch-language exam at times as a rapid-fire event that makes it difficult to follow what is being said. The exam goes through thirty different situations that are described in clips of 30 to 40 seconds, while the candidate had at most 10 to 15 seconds to come up with the correct answer.

Singh is bitter about the outcome: “You remain an outsider who is allowed to pay taxes but who cannot exercise any rights.”



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