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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 12:24 GMT
Dutch immigrant amnesty overruled
Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk
Rita Verdonk has introduced hardline anti-immigration policies
The outgoing Dutch government has vetoed a motion by the country's new parliament to grant amnesty to thousands of failed asylum seekers.

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk said it might have led to 200,000 illegal immigrants applying for residence.

"This is going to lead to a gigantic burden... we simply can't carry out" the motion, she said.

The motion was passed last week by one vote, thanks to a swing from right to left in recent Dutch polls.

Coalition negotiations are ongoing. It is thought likely that the centre-right coalition, which remains in a caretaker role, will be replaced by a centre-left one.

Ms Verdonk's Liberal Party is likely to lose its role in government.

Correspondents say the motion on asylum may have been a way for the left-leaning parties to prove their increased power over the Liberals and others on the right.

The motion referred to about 26,000 failed asylum seekers who entered the country before tougher immigration laws were introduced in 2001.

Ms Verdonk vowed to deport them all. About half are thought either to have been sent home or to have left of their own accord.

But an opinion poll in October showed 63% of Dutch people supported an amnesty for the rest, some of whom have been living in the Netherlands for more than a decade.

Vote fragments Dutch politics
23 Nov 06 |  Europe
Dutch emerge from doldrums
20 Nov 06 |  Europe

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