Angolan teenager Mauro Manuel loses fight to stay in the Netherlands

Mauro Manuel
Mauro Manuel, 18, arrived in the Netherlands from Angola as an unaccompanied asylum seeker in 2003. Photograph: Koen Van Weel/EPA

An Angolan teenager who arrived in the Netherlands aged 10 has lost his fight to stay in the country despite a heartfelt plea to the Dutch parliament and a wave of protest at his treatment.
Mauro Manuel, now 18, has been living in the Dutch province of Limburg with a foster family since he arrived in the Netherlands as an unaccompanied asylum seeker in 2003. He is facing deportation because he is an adult. Dutch MPs voted down two motions on Tuesday that would have allowed him to stay in the country permanently. They are expected to vote next week on a compromise motion that would allow him to stay to hear whether or not an application for a temporary four-year student visa has been successful.

On Monday, Manuel made an emotional statement to MPs. "Against my will I have become a symbol for all young, unaccompanied asylum seekers in the Netherlands. I would much rather be a symbol of integration in Dutch society," he said. "I was put on a plane completely by myself when I was nine years old. I was very sad and frightened … Happily I came to live with good people who are now my mother and father.
"I want to celebrate Queen's Day every year and, as a footballer myself, I want the Dutch team to be champions."
The Christian Democratic party initially supported Manuel's cause but bowed to pressure from its coalition partners, setting the deportation process in motion. There are about 75 children fighting similar battles to be allowed to stay in the country.

The Lower House yesterday afternoon rejected two motions in favour of giving Mauro Manuel a residence permit.
With 72 votes in favour and 78 against, the motions were lost. The 'dissidents' within the Christian democrats (CDA), MPs Ad Koppejan and Kathleen Ferrier, voted with their party against the resolutions. The smallest Christian party SGP also did so because it "has the conviction that it is not good for the House to go and sit on the seat of the judge and minister."

A motion to allow the 18 year old Angolan youth to stay in the Netherlands to await a student visa was not put to the vote by the leftwing Greens (GroenLinks) and centre-left D66. This last motion will in fact very likely have the support of a House majority as the CDA is in favour of it.
When this motion for a student visa will come up was not yet clear. The leftwing parties want guarantees that Manuel can also stay in the Netherlands after his studies. The boy himself has in fact said he would rather have a job than a course.
The conservatives (VVD) and Party for Freedom (PVV) conclude that the squabbling within the CDA party over Manuel now appears to be over. But a repetition of this is inadmissible, warned PVV leader Geert Wilders yesterday.


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