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Further investment in repatriation policy
The budget for repatriating foreigners is increasing next year by 17.7%, from 72 million euros to 84.8 million euros. “And this in particularly difficult budgetary conditions,” stresses Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken. He wishes to use the extra funds to further increase capacity in the closed centres for illegal immigrants, so that the number of repatriations can also continue to increase next year in tandem. The highest priority in that repatriation policy remains the many criminal illegal immigrants populating our prisons. “By sending those convicted criminals back to their country of origin, we will also reduce overpopulation in our own prisons.”
Already this year 1,437 such detainees, who thus do not have a residence permit, have been sent back to their home country. “That means we broke last year’s absolute record in just under eleven months,” says a proud Theo Francken. In the 2012-2014 period, before Theo Francken took over the reins, a total of a mere 544 criminals were sent back.
Additional places in the closed centres
“Not only are we breaking all records when it comes to the expulsion of criminals, the general expulsion numbers are rising substantially too,” says Theo Francken. In concrete terms, the Secretary of State is expecting the number for this year to come out at just under 11,000 expulsions (10,891 to be exact). That is 8% more than last year and a quarter more than in 2014. “And this despite the terrorist attacks, as a result of which we weren’t able to use the airport for repatriations for six weeks. Everything came to a standstill. The strikes by the prison guards were a big setback too.”
The intent is for the number of repatriations to increase further in 2017. So logically, additional places must be made available in the closed centres. “At the start of my mandate there were about 420 places: the lowest number in many, many years. In the meantime there are about 600, however, even that number has to increase further. Because the more places there are, the more exclusions there can be.”
“It is essential that investments are once again made in repatriation policy,” concludes Theo Francken. “More people have to go back: voluntarily if possible, but forced if necessary.”