Dutch Shame: The Netherlands Debates The Deportation Of A Child
I write this because I am appalled. I write this because I find it unfathomable that a Western, civilized country that dares to boast of its “tolerance” (a fable, but people still believe it) and its “openness” (ditto), a country that professes to believe in human rights and human dignity, can be committing this kind of sin against an innocent young man. I write this because I think the world should know.
Mauro Manuel arrived in the Netherlands as a child of nine – frightened, alone, sent off by his parents who feared for his safety in their war-torn homeland of Angola. Their son, they knew, would face a better future in the West.
And so he came to live in the Netherlands, where he has, in the nine years since, learned to speak the language fluently, with the unmistakeable drawl of the province of Limburg, where he now lives with a foster family. He has been a good student. He plays soccer with the best of them. His foster parents gave birth two years ago to a son Mauro calls his brother, and loves as if they had been born to the same family.
But Mauro is now 18 years old. And the Dutch government wants to send him back to Africa.
Mauro no longer speaks his native language. He no longer knows the cultural mores of his homeland. He has been raised a Westerner, a Dutchman, and this is the culture of which he feels a part.
But the government, born in large part of growing schism between Muslim immigrants and their descendants and Dutch natives, doesn’t care. It doesn’t matter that Mauro is not a Muslim radical. It doesn’t matter that Mauro has never been in trouble with the law. It doesn’t matter that entire communities have stood up in his defense, or that he will likely be unsafe in Angola, once he is forced to return. It doesn’t matter that he has spent half of his life in the Netherlands. He is 18, and he must leave. No exceptions.
Not even for the children.
Some in the Parliament argue that an exception should be made for a young man who has, as it were, become “Dutchified.” Others retort that then, you know, there will be hundreds, thousands of children we have to admit – an absurd assertion in itself, but even if it were true – even if it were true – would that destroy the country? Would that not display its commitment to human good, and to the future of the children of the world? And is that not more important than having to find room, in this small country, for a few hundred (and it isn’t that many; it isn’t that many at all) additional people?
Here is a small reminder to the Dutch people: not long ago, German Jews came to this country to escape the Holocaust. Many were young children who arrived on Holland’s shores alone. Would you have turned them back, too, at eighteen? Have you learned absolutely nothing?
Courage, Mauro – or as the Dutch say, sterkte. I stand with you.