DUTCH IMMIGRATION AND INTEGRATION MINISTER PROPOSES A VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES

Identifier: 
05THEHAGUE2898

UNCLAS THE HAGUE 002898

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/UBI, PRM AND CA
DHS FOR OIA - CARCOS AND DSEQUEIRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL, CASC, CVIS, PTER, PGOV, NL
SUBJECT: DUTCH IMMIGRATION AND INTEGRATION MINISTER
PROPOSES A VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES

SENSITIVE

1. (SBU) Summary. Dutch Minister for Immigration and
Integration Rita Verdonk reiterated to Charge her strong
interest in visiting the U.S. Verdonk said she was
interested in a program that covered both the immigration
and integration sides of her portfolio. She suggested a
January 2006 timeframe. End Summary.

2. (SBU) During Charge's October 25 courtesy call, Minister
Verdonk stressed her strong interest in making a three-four
day visit to the United States, including Washington, New
York and possibly another city with a large immigrant
population. She expressed interest in meetings at the
Departments of Homeland Security and State and in attending
public events related to U.S. immigration and naturalization
policy and the integration of refugees and immigrants. In
particular, she noted her strong interest in visiting the
CBP National Targeting Center in conjunction with
discussions on risk profiles for immigrants, and observing a
naturalization ceremony.

3. (SBU) Charge noted that DHS had advised that it was still
working to resolve several technical issues related to
implementation of the International Expedited Traveller
pilot program between Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and New
York's JFK. DHS would prefer to hold off signing the MOU
establishing the program until a firm date for launching the
program could be determined. Gert Versluis, Deputy Director
for Immigration and Naturalization (IND), who sat in on the
meeting, noted IND was keen to launch the IET program by
April. He understood the U.S. side expected to be ready to
begin the program by then.

4. (SBU) Charge also raised the Embassy's efforts to reach
out to the Muslim population in the Netherlands. He
explained that the Embassy launched this effort in part in
response to polls that indicated that Dutch Muslims have a
more negative impression of the United States than do
Muslims in other European countries. He said the outreach
program was as an attempt to better understand the concerns
of the Muslim population and to better explain the United
States. We were discussing with several businesses the
possibility of launching a program to offer internships to
Muslim students, as an example.

5. (SBU) Verdonk noted that her ministry had also launched
diversity programs to encourage businesses to provide
internships and other employment opportunities to
minorities. Her policy advisor on integration and religious
matters noted that they were looking at ways in which the
ministry could cooperate with the Mission on outreach.

COMMENT
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6. (SBU) We strongly encourage DHS and Department to respond
favorably to Minister Verdonk's proposal to visit the United
States. She is at the center of the whole Muslim
integration question in the Netherlands and carries
considerable weight. Her tough polices have helped make
Verdonk the most popular member of the Dutch cabinet, though
many Muslims view her with distrust. The Dutch government,
including Verdonk, has been a strong partner in our counter-
terrorism and homeland security efforts. Her visiting the
States would further strengthen that relationship.

Blakeman