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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 June 2007, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Dutch MPs back immigrant amnesty
Illegal immigrants (file pic)
Immigration has been a major election issue for the Netherlands
The Dutch parliament has agreed to an amnesty for some 30,000 illegal immigrants, reversing the previous government's policies.

The move means residence permits will be given to people who applied for and failed to get asylum before 2001.

The previous immigration minister, Rita Verdonk, ordered the deportation of 26,000 asylum seekers.

Anyone convicted of war crimes or sentenced to more than a month in jail is excluded from the new measure.

It was first proposed by parliament after last November's elections, which led to the centre-left Labour party entering the governing coalition at the expense of the Liberal VVD party.

The coalition is led by the Christian Democrats (CDA). The third partner is the small Christian Union.

The previous administration collapsed last June after a row over the handling of the disputed citizenship of Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

The immigration issue has gripped Dutch politics since the murders of two prominent campaigners against Muslim extremism - independent politician Pim Fortuyn and film-maker Theo van Gogh.

Country profile: The Netherlands
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