Knowledge migrants are increasingly worried about their position in the Netherlands. They notice that Dutch society is hardening towards migrants, especially since the Cabinet collapsed over the migration policy, and worry that the new government will further tighten their wage thresholds or tax rules, De Volkskrant reports.
The newspaper surveyed 178 knowledge migrants from 37 countries. There are about 100,000 of these highly skilled ex-pats in the Netherlands.
Knowledge workers noticed the hardening towards them before the Cabinet collapsed, but things have gotten worse since then, they told the newspaper. And that is especially experienced by people of color. Knowledge workers face racism or unfair treatment. “Citizens do not know the difference between asylum seekers and migrants and lump these groups together,” a computer scientist from Chile said to the newspaper. A British consultant added: “Non-Dutch people, especially people of color, are seen as the cause of all problems and are, therefore, not welcome.”
“I don’t think there is a full understanding or distinction among Dutch people between the different types of migrants and their impact on society in the Netherlands,” a project manager from South Africa said. “Additional context is usually withheld or manipulated to suit anyone’s political agenda.”
“The danger is that all the problems will be shifted onto migrants,” said a highly skilled migrant from Turkey. “Take the housing shortage. That is a structural problem. But if the government conducts the migration debate so openly, people will start to think that migration is also the main cause of, for example, high house prices.”
Knowledge migrants are highly skilled workers from outside the European zone who can fill a vacancy for a better-paid job. Large international companies like ASML and Shell and university institutions particularly make a lot of use of these expats.
Knowledge migrants form only part of the annual group of migrants who enter the Netherlands and hardly ever come up in the political debate. That debate is currently focused mainly on asylum seekers, about 50,000 of whom enter the Netherlands annually. There is also discussion about migrant workers – people from the European zone who use the free movement of labor to work in the Netherlands. Many incidents have occurred of migrant workers living in poor-quality rental housing and being exploited.
Despite this, about two-thirds of knowledge migrants worry that the migration debate will negatively affect them. And they’re right to be concerned, migration researcher Saskia Bonjour of the University of Amsterdam told the Volkskrant. The upcoming parliamentary elections and the Cabinet formation could majorly influence the policy affecting them. For example, Pieter Omtzigt, who is doing great in the polls with his new party NSC, has always been very critical of the internationalization of education. And even the VVD, always a big proponent of ex-pats, said in its election program that it wants to examine the conditions for work permits.
A new Cabinet could change the income requirements or other conditions for knowledge migrants, political scientist Jeroen Doomernik of the University of Amsterdam said. But he doesn’t think ex-pats need to be too concerned. The Netherlands won’t make massive changes because it doesn’t want to risk “killing the goose that lays the golden eggs,” he said.