[JURIST] The Dutch Parliament [official website] voted Thursday to strip Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk [official website] of responsibility for setting immigration policy and to temporarily halt the deportation of failed asylum seekers. Verdonk, known domestically as the "Iron Lady" for her tough anti-immigration initiatives, will now be responsible for integration and child protection. Verdonk was stripped of her immigration portfolio after parliament passed an amnesty for illegal immigrants who have lived in the Netherlands for more than five years. Verdonk refused to implement the amnesty [BBC report], saying that she would "uphold the immigration law." The Dutch Parliament then passed a motion censuring Verdonk [BBC report], which ordinarily would have prompted her resignation, but several members of the caretaker government threatened to resign from the governing coalition if Verdonk were forced to resign.
Last month, Verdonk announced plans to introduce legislation [press statement, in Dutch] to ban the Muslim full-length burqa [Wikipedia backgrounder] veil as well as other face coverings like ski masks in public places. Dutch law already prohibits wearing burqas and other religious dress [JURIST news archive] that covers the entire body in public schools and on public transportation, but Verdonk said that a total ban was a necessary anti-terror security measure. The Netherlands has traditionally been distinguished by its openness, but in recent years it has become much wary of immigrants, setting up detention centers for asylum-seekers, requiring newcomers to learn Dutch, and adopting a more vigorous deportation policy. AP has more.