Monday, February 20, 2006

Say Cheeeeese

My Ellis Island alike country -the Netherlands- will roll out the next phase of its tough integration policy next month when it introduces compulsory Dutch language and culture tests at 138 embassies, the immigration minister said today. The 30-minute computerized exam will determine if newcomers are prepared for Dutch life, said Rita Verdonk. "If you pass, you're more than welcome. It is in the interest of Dutch society and those concerned."

The program begins March 15 at Dutch embassies around the world. Verdonk is the architect of some of the government's toughest measures to stem new immigration and to expel applicants who have been rejected, putting her at the center of the national debate over the traditional image of Dutch tolerance. "What's tolerance? I think tolerance has become confused with indifference," she responded during a rare meeting with foreign reporters. "As far as image goes, I'm here to protect the public interests and I don't think our image will suffer," she said.

European Union nations largely praise the Dutch policies, Verdonk said, while Moroccans and Turks told her they are happy with the policies and want her "to keep up the good work." Immigrant families, often isolated from the employment market because they don't speak Dutch or face discrimination, account for 33 percent of the country's poor although they make up less than 20 percent of the population. Unemployment rates for nonnative youths are in some cases three time those of native youths, reports the AP.

I think we should teach immigrants to speak English. There are only 16 million out of 6 Billion people speaking Dutch. Who cares? Teach them to speak English and they have a better chance of getting employed and when we do send them back they have at least learned a language that matters. I feel ashamed of our so called tough integration policy.