First in Belgium: a citizens’ bill debated in the Chamber, it concerns the regularization of undocumented migrants

The authors of the petitionIn My Name” (“In my name“) defended this Tuesday in the House Interior Committee their proposal for a citizens’ law on the regularization of undocumented people. This is the first time that a collective of citizens has been able to defend a text of law in the Federal Parliament since the introduction of this possibility at the end of 2020.

Among the speakers, the Union of Undocumented Migrants for Regularization, personalities from civil society, union representatives and doctors were able to explain the various problems faced by people in an irregular situation in our country.

The authors of the petition “In My Name” denounce a “racist” migration policy

Eleven citizens intervened. Five of them are people without a valid residence permit. Lawyer Kati Verstrepen and writer Rachida Lamrabet also spoke on behalf of the citizens’ initiative. The most moving testimony came from Leticia Assemien, undocumented in Belgium. She spoke specifically about the plight of women: “We want to live, not survive“, she begged.”We are not lazy, let alone parasites. We are imprisoned by law.

The writer Rachida Lamrabet, a former Unia lawyer, described as “racist” the current Belgian asylum policy. In the future, it wants a “procedure which takes human rights as a reference“.”We ask for the banning of the word ‘undocumented’ because a country which divides its inhabitants into people with and without papers is an unworthy country.

Lawyer Kati Verstrepen summed up concretely what ‘In My Name’ is asking for. “We are not asking for a collective regularization. What we want is the creation of an independent regularization committee which offers a transparent procedure and makes decisions on the basis of clear criteria.

Several majority political groups have stressed that they do not want collective regularization either. “We must not deceive ourselves“, said Hervé Rigot (PS). “The basic thing you need to be given is clarity“, he added. Tim Vandeput (Open Vld) warned against a “attraction effect” with a general regularization. Same story at Servais Verherstraeten (CD&V): “Individual regularization is the right option, not collective“.

Simon Moutquin (Ecolo-Groen), also in the majority, disputed the argument of the attraction effect of a general regularization: “No study has shown that a regularization policy would lead to more asylum seekers“. He even called the current asylum policy “criminal“, because “she does not help people in danger“.”Our policy is above ground, the issue of undocumented migrants is not human. The fate of these people is unjust.

In opposition, the PTB expressed its support for the ‘In My Name’ initiative. “We support your citizen law“said Greet Daems.”It is not possible that two people with the same file often receive a different answer to their asylum application. We need an independent institution and clear criteria. These criteria do not exist today.

There are fixed criteria“, challenged Ben Segers (Vooruit, majority). “Individual differences remain important. Flexibility is essential for the human side. Individual consideration remains necessary. (…) And the asylum procedure is not wasted. There is a 40-50% chance of recognition, which is a lot. Which country does better?

We’ve been advocating for years… for there to be something“, underlined Vanessa Matz (Les Engagés, opposition). “In fact, we implemented it at the time with Secretary of State (Melchior) Wathelet via a regularization campaign. I hope this will be the starting point of this something. The spirit of your proposal meets many concerns.’

Unsurprisingly, Vlaams Belang, represented by Dries Van Langenhove, was totally opposed to the citizens’ initiative. Committee chairman Ortwin Depoortere, from the far-right party, was absent.

N-VA and DéFI were not present.

Several dozen people were present at the Brussels Courthouse to follow the hearing in committee of the Chamber which was broadcast on a giant screen.

We would love to thank the author of this short article for this outstanding content

First in Belgium: a citizens’ bill debated in the Chamber, it concerns the regularization of undocumented migrants

Visit our social media profiles and other related pages