Umar sighs. does he suffer from the natural. In English he says: “First you paid 1.25 for a pack of rice, now 2.20. All prices are going up.” The 35-year-old Umarr fled from Sierra Leone and ended up in the Netherlands in 2017. His wife and two children are still there.
In his native country, he worked as a technician. He provided the correct wiring in buildings so that a connection could be made. Here in the Netherlands he is not allowed to work. The IND has submitted his asylum application, because Umarr cannot prove sufficiently that he really comes from Sierra Leone. “I really can’t go back, that’s dangerous for me.” A lawyer is working on it.
Umarr lives somewhere in Utrecht, through a foundation. He would prefer to work every day, but that is not so simple. “Sometimes I can take over someone’s newspaper route, or a plumbing job. If you don’t know people who can help you, it’s very difficult to get a job.”
Anyone who can stay in the Netherlands illegally or undocumented cannot arrange anything, because you cannot get a citizen service number (BSN). With a BSN you actually ‘best’, and you can arrange things such as health insurance. Undocumented migrants are completely focused on themselves, private foundations that have been applied for them.
tens of thousands
“We do not know exactly how many undocumented migrants there are in the Netherlands, there will in any case be tens of thousands,” says Rian Ederveen of the LOS foundation (National Undocumented Support Center).
LOS only sees the group that cannot make it themselves, usually asylum seekers who have exhausted their legal remedies. “Then there are two other groups: the Indonesians, Filipinos, Brazilians; who often manage to find work, in cleaning for example. They have large networks and red themselves.” Finally, there are the ‘family migrants’; the people who have traveled to relatives who do reside here legally.
having a network
NRC headlined in mid-September that many Deliveroo and UberEats meal deliverers are illegal. This suggests that it is quite easy to get a job. However, that is disappointing. Ederveen agrees with what Umarr says. “You just have to know someone, have a bit of a network.”
Trade union director Herrie Hoogenboom of FNV Migrant Domestic Workers also sees that undocumented migrants are having an extra hard time. “They’re generally very law-abiding people. They live in constant fear of being discovered, so they don’t even go through a red traffic light.”
Hoogenboom stands up for people who still work ‘informally’ (black), for example as cleaners or babysitters. The FNV wants this work to shift to the formal side, so that people can pay tax on their income and also get more rights. In addition, undeclared work is always punishable; both the worker and the employer can receive an additional fine.
Hoogenboom: “As FNV we say: we are about work, not about undocumented migrants. Although we do think that they should be able to earn their money in a legal way.”
“Because they now live in the shadow side, such terrible abuses also exist, where people have to surrender their passports, for example, and are exploited.”
Inflation new blow
Hoogenboom is concerned about the consequences of the shape. The corona was also a difficult time, because many people lost their jobs as cleaners. “We then set up a support fund with which we support people.”
This situation will also prevent the problems again, he thinks. “But in general, our supporters are well organized and they are not directly on our doorstep for help.”
The hardest thing about living without papers? “That you can’t make dreams come true,” says Umarr. “I want to become a plumber, develop myself further in that, but that is almost impossible. While there is enough work.”
The IND would also act much faster, he says. “People are going crazy. I see people who have done that before now drinking and smoking.”
He lives day by day, that’s all he can do. Small bright spot: “At least I’m safe here.”