Policies of exclusion and practices of inclusion

How municipal governments negotiate asylum policies in the Netherlands

There is a major gap in Dutch refugee and immigration control policies between its ambitions and outcomes. It results in considerable numbers of rejected asylum seekers who, while they cannot be expelled from the country, are excluded from government support and from opportunities to work in the belief this should encourage voluntary departure. Destitution and homelessness can often be the result, an outcome which poses problems in cities, creates a challenge for local government and triggers calls for political change from non-governmental actors.

This article analyses the ways Dutch municipalities have developed practices to cushion and counteract aspects of such exclusionary national asylum policies, how these municipal actors justify these actions and how they thereby question the legitimacy of national policies and their execution. The analysis reveals the tensions that exist in the governance of migration through national policies and local practices. While not discounting the possibility that these actions and argumentations provide fuel to national political sentiments favouring the further exclusion of‘irregular’ migrants, in this study we argue that at times they may also strengthen democratic policy-making and drive policy change. 

Kos, S., Maussen, M., & Doomernik, J. (2016). Policies of exclusion and practices of inclusion: how municipal governments negotiate asylum policies in the Netherlands. Territory, Politics, Governance4(3), 354-374.

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