Belgium To Force Incoming Non-EU Migrants To Sign ‘Newcomers Statement’, Pledging To Accept Local Values

According to government officials, non-EU immigrants who wish to reside in Belgium must agree to sign and abide by a Newcomers Statement, which acknowledges their pledge to accept and respect local values and beliefs.

Those who refuse to sign the statement will be denied access to entering the Belgium country.

The announcement is a new chapter to the ongoing saga of war-fleeing migrants, along with migrants trying to take advantage of the current migration situation, attempting to find solace in a new country/region.

There doesn’t seem to be much opposition to the new proposal, and Parliament is expected to pass and introduce the Newcomers Statement in the months that follow, according to Theo Francken, Belgium’s secretary of state for asylum and migrations, who drafted the proposal.

Many officials fear the move may spark an already lit anti-immigrant sentiment.

At the start of this year it was reported that 1.1 million asylum-seekers had reached German borders after their chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced her open-door policy in the summer of 2015 towards those who were fleeing war-torn countries.

Merkel had strongly believed that an open-door policy would better her country claiming that “countries have always benefited from successful immigration, both economically and socially.”

But there has been much opposition and incidents that have forced Germany, and other countries like Belgium, to reconsider their policies towards migrants.

Since that time Merkel, and now Belgium, have tightened their grip on who will be allowed in their country after many citizens and policy makers have criticized leaders for their leniency towards individuals they fear might threaten their livelihood in their own native land.

The Newcomer Statement would only apply to migrants who plan on staying in the country longer than three months, and also forces them to prevent and report any attempts to commit “acts of terrorism.”

Along with those who believe they will not spend longer than three months in the country, those who can be identified as asylum seekers as well as students who enroll in classes in the country are also excluded from having to sign the statement.

“[Many people] are coming [to Belgium] from countries with other values,” said Mr. Francken’s spokesman Laurent Mutambayi.

“If they want to build their life here in Europe [we have] no problem with that but they have to sign this statement that they accept our values.”

The statement comes just weeks after terror attacks struck the capital city of Brussels. The attack, which ISIS took credit for, killed 35 individuals while injuring dozens more and has given more reason for the Belgium government to invoke stricter policies on those who enter their country.

According to Secretary Francken’s official Twitter account, Non-EU migrants entering Belgium will be asked to sign the following:

  • Respect freedom of speach, assembly, religion and sexual orientation
  • Males and females equal, have same rights, must pay taxes
  • Adults’ right to freely choose job, home, partner without parental pressure
  • Both parents’ obligation to provide for children
  • Neither boy nor girls can be forced into marriage
  • Violence and threat to use violence, including to spouse or children, is punishable
  • Prevent, report terrorism attempts
  • Make sufficient efforts to learn language of region
  • Sustain self by own means, become self-supportive

The proposal has been criticized by those organizations in Belgium who are working with these non-EU migrants, claiming that it promotes discrimination and encourages prejudice towards those seeking refuge in Belgium.

“It’s an extra tool for the immigration office to keep some people out of Belgium,” said Didier Vanderslycke from ORBIT, an organization working on diversity and migration.

“The integration process can start when you have the residence and not when you sign a document that you will integrate.

“It’s really a bad thing as a welcome [for] people.”

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