Teenage asylum seeker 'disappointed' as latest deportation challenge fails

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Hopes that a deal may be struck to allow Mauro Manuel to stay in the Netherlands appear to be fading after two attempts to stop the 18-year-old's deportation were blocked in parliament.

Opposition parties had put forward two motions that would have forced immigration minister Gerd Leers to reconsider his decision to send Mauro back to Angola.

The issue has been the source of huge controversy and tested the foundations of the minority centre-right coalition government, particularly within Leers's own Christian Democrat (CDA) faction.

Earlier in the day the CDA group had agreed that Mauro should stay in the country while the government decided whether to grant him a student visa.

But the CDA delegates were then decisive in defeating the two opposition motions, one calling on Leers to use his ministerial discretion to allow the teenager to stay, the other demanding a new policy for long-term immigrants who arrived in the country as children, such as Mauro.

Leers has maintained all along that Mauro should be deported as he has exhausted all avenues of appeal, despite a growing outcry by opposition parties, children's rights campaigners and members of his own parliamentary group.

The other governing party, the Liberals (VVD), wants to deport the teenager, while the Freedom Party led by Geert Wilders, which signed an accord to prop up the minority coalition, has made a tougher line on immigration one of its key demands.

The organisation Defence for Children, which has been representing Mauro, said he was "disappointed" that MPs had blocked his bid to stay in the country.

Opposition politicians criticised the CDA's position as a botched compromise that would delay, but not prevent, his deportation.

Mauro, who arrived in the Netherlands alone after his mother put him on a plane in Angola, became a cause celebre in the Netherlands in July when he wrote to Leers pleading to be given permission to stay in the country.

His case has become a rallying point for human rights and children's campaign groups, as well as a test case for the government's stringent immigration policy.

Last week it threatened to cause a split within the CDA block, many of whose rank-and-file members were unhappy at Leers's intransigence on the issue. At a special conference held on Sunday to debate the party's position, delegates passed a resolution calling for it to adopt a "humane policy" on lone child migrants.

Source: NRC: Mauro en oppositie teleurgesteld over stemming
Photo by Shirley de Jong

See also: Asylum seeker Mauro offered one last chance as coalition creaks
Fate of teenage asylum seeker Mauro hangs in balance
No reprieve for 18-year-old asylum seeker Mauro

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