The Netherlands

Dutch Church's Month-Long, 24/7 Service Is Saving a Family of Refugees From Deportation

The church faced a dilemma: "choosing between respect for the government and protecting the rights of a child."

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Facebook/Joost Schelling

When the leaders of a Dutch church found out that a family of Armenian refugees was facing deportation, they realized this was a chance to act on their convictions, even if it meant a bit of civil disobedience. As a result, the church has spent more than a month taking advantage of a legal loophole to ensure that the family stays.

For almost nine years, the Tamrazyan family has living as refugees in the Netherlands. And for good reason—according to their asylum request, the father has received death threats due to his political activism in Armenia. While a judge granted them asylum, the government fought back, and the initial ruling was eventually overturned.

Facing a deportation order, the family of five, who had previously been living in an asylum center, sought aid. "This week I can be expelled from the Netherlands after 9 years," 21-year-old Hayarpi Tamrazyan said in a video posted to Twitter in September, according to Euronews."On behalf of my brother and sister, I ask you for help."

Hayarpi and her siblings—Warduhi and Seyran—as well as her father Sasun and mother Anousche, moved out of the asylum center and took refuge at the church where they were members: Gereformeerde Kerk vrijgemaakt (GKv) Katwijk. But as Quartz reported, the church was too small to house them over a long period of time.

That's when Bethel Church in The Hague stepped in to help. In addition to taking the family in, the church made certain authorities couldn't arrest them. How? According to Dutch law, police are not allowed to force their way into houses of worship while religious services are taking place. So ever since October 26, Bethel has been holding a round-the-clock church service.

"We do all this by continuously [sic] praying, singing, listening to sermons and worshipping," Axel Wicke, a minister at Bethel, tweeted Sunday. "The Tamrazyan familiy is literally living in a protective house built by prayers and worship."

Bethel has received the support of the Protestant community in the Netherlands. Its efforts have attracted pastors from around the country, who lead the service in shifts, no matter how many people are in the congregation. The church is trying to "create time and space for dialogue with the government about a dilemma that…should not be faced by a church: choosing between respect for the government and protecting the rights of a child," Theo Hettema, chairman of the General Council of Protestant Ministers, told Eternity News.

Where do "the rights of a child" come into play? The Tamrazyan family previously tried to obtain a "children's pardon," which allows families seeking asylum to stay if they have a child who's been in the country for more than five years. Having lived in the Netherlands for nearly nine years, the Tamrazyans should have been eligible, but their application was still rejected. In fact, from 2013—when the policy was implemented—to April 2016, less than 10 percent of children's pardon requests were granted, according to the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service website.

Wicke told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that Bethel has been aware of this issue "for a while"—long before the Tamrazyans sought aid. He also explained why Bethel feels it's so important that the family not be sent back to Armenia. "We know from the family that [Sasun] also got abducted several times—he was politically active and people in the country were wanting him dead," Wicke said.

Bethel is not the only church to take drastic measures in order to try and stop deportations. On Monday, Reason's Zuri Davis wrote about CityWell United Methodist Church in Durham, North Carolina. For 11 months, CityWell sheltered Samuel Oliver-Bruno, an undocumented immigrant whose wife and son are both American citizens. On Friday, Oliver-Bruno showed up for an appointment at the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, only to be arrested by plainclothes Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Dozens of his supporters who had accompanied him to the appointment surrounded the van where he was taken by immigration agents. They prayed, chanted, and sang. Police ended up arresting 27 of them.

Reason's Shikha Dalmia reported in February that there many churches across the United States providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants. Authorities usually don't force their way into sensitive locations like churches and hospitals, though in some cases agents will simply wait until immigrants leave to arrest them.

As for the Tamrazyans, Hettema told Quartz he hopes Dutch Minister of Migration Mark Harbers will grant them legal residency, which Harbers has the power to do. But Hettema understands that a never-ending church service isn't the final solution.

"We do not have any illusions. It may end with vans of the Repatriation and Departures Service out front, or may end because we can no longer continue the service," he told Eternity News. "But that was not reason not to do it," he added, indicating that when a family asks for help, it's up to the church to step up.

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  1. Dutch racists. They want to control their borders and enforce Rule of Law too?

    1. How can you call yourself a libertarian and not applaud people thumbing their nose at officious bureaucrats? What is it about Trump that has turned so many supposed government-sneerers into government lovers?

      Government detests individuality. Libertarianism is all about individual rights. The two are incompatible.

      1. Libertarianism is all about individual rights.

        What I have come to see, is that for some people here, it seems that libertarianism is not about protecting individual rights as an abstract concept, but instead they view libertarianism as protecting THEIR individual rights, and everyone else can go fuck off.

        1. Liberty for Americans, and everyone else can go screw themselves.
          Who cares if the bootheel of government comes down hard on foreigners and migrants. They don’t matter, they’re not Americans.

          1. What are the consequences of 40M Mexicans moving to the US?

            1. Democrats never lose another Presidential election again. In other words, exactly the outcome libertarians should hope for.

              1. This was barely a parody, but still funny

            2. What are the consequences of 300 million guns in private hands in the US?
              What are the consequences of 2.9 billion cases of beer sold each year in the US?
              What are the consequences of 17 Big Macs sold every second in the US?

              If the lawful exercise of liberty is to be predicated only on its presumed positive outcomes, then explain why you think guns should not be regulated, or beer, or fast food.

              1. Why stop there? Why not simply annex ourselves to Mexico, under their jurisdiction?

                Borders have no meaning.

                1. You dodged the question.

                  If migration from Mexico is to be restricted and regulated based on the presumed negative effects of this migration on society, then explain why you think that, for example, the availability of fast food from McDonald’s should not be restricted and/or regulated, based on the presumed negative effects of all that junk food on society. Maybe Bloomberg had the right idea when he tried to ban Big Gulps. Right? If not, why not?

                  You can’t have it both ways. Either liberty is to be affirmed despite the potential negative consequences, or liberty takes a back seat to a predetermined outcome.

                  1. When those foreseeable negative consequences include the destruction of even what liberty we have, then reality-based policies that can preserve liberty here and preserve the conditions under which liberty might be expanded need to be pursued rather than following doctrinal purity over a cliff.

                    A free society within our borders for everyone in the world who would like to come here is not something that we can offer, especially when most of those who would like to come do not want freedom and would prefer socialism. If we throw open our gates to all, then soon the resulting stampede of immigrants will catastrophically alter our way of life, and we will have no freedom or prosperity to offer to anyone.

                    1. When those foreseeable negative consequences include the destruction of even what liberty we have

                      I don’t get this type of hysteria. I really don’t. This country has had mass migration in previous eras and it didn’t lead to the total destruction of liberty. The arguments that I read here against immigration could have been lifted straight from the Know Nothing Party’s platform of the 1850’s. All those Irish and Italians immigrating here didn’t destroy American liberty, even though the nativists at the time were sure that they would. I’m going to need some more convincing arguments than recycled hysteria from 150 years ago. It doesn’t mean that immigration won’t have some challenges. But it won’t be this existential nightmare.

                    2. This isn’t 1850. I could go into the all the important differences between then and now, but since I’m talking to a brick, it would be a waste of time.

                    3. It isn’t 1850, but all of the same doom and gloom predictions were made then as are being made now, and those predictions did not come to pass. Honestly if you read some of their literature from the time, it sounds very Trumpian. “Those Europeans are sending their criminals and their deadbeats over to this country, and we’ve got to do something about it!” The same type of crap was said about the Chinese in the 1880s, the Southern/Eastern Europeans in the 1920s, and now about Mexicans/Central Americans. In none of those previous cases did immigration lead to the destruction of the Republic or the destruction of our liberty wholesale. Were there changes? Yes Were some of the changes negative overall? Yes. Were the changes SO BAD that it meant the END OF AMERICA? NO. So when I see the same anti-immigrant crap going on now that has literally been going on for over a century, I just see it as the boy crying wolf one more time. So you’re going to have to really convince me that “this time it’s different” before I believe that Central Americans are going to destroy America.

                    4. Several of us have explained this to you several times in recent comment threads. You ignore the explanations and repeat yourself. I have better things to do than try to convince someone who won’t listen.

                    5. “…rather than following doctrinal purity over a cliff.”

                      Bing-go.

          2. Who cares if the mass importation of low income foreigners causes the boot heel of the government welfare state to come down hard on taxpaying American citizens? Certainly not chemjeff!

            Report: More than half of immigrants on welfare

            Quote:
            About 51% of immigrant-led households receive at least one kind of welfare benefit, including Medicaid, food stamps, school lunches and housing assistance, compared to 30% for native-led households? Those numbers increase for households with children, with 76% of immigrant-led households receiving welfare, compared to 52% for the native-born.

            1. But those “low income foreigners” will overwhelmingly vote for the party that supports abortion access. So even if your stats on welfare use are correct, it’s still a net win for liberty.

            2. Now show us those same statistics for non-immigrant households.

              Half the people in this country receive some kind of government handout. Your 51% is meaningless in isolation.

              1. Doesn’t mean we should add on to the burden.

                1. Doesn’t mean we should add on to the burden.

                  You’re right! So since poor native-born households consume more welfare than poor immigrant households, in absolute numbers, then let’s forcibly sterilize poor native-born welfare moms and dads, so that they don’t have more welfare babies and add on to the welfare burden. Agreed?

              2. Now show us those same statistics for non-immigrant households.

                Uh, it compares it to native-led households in the exact same sentence. Twice.

                1. Yeah, to the literal minded who believe everything in black and white. I have seen way too many selective quotes to buy this selective quote, which goes against other selective quotes all over the map.

                  I should have been clearer about my objection. And no, I’m not going to go link to a bunch of other selective quotes.

                2. Lol. Reading failure.

                3. Lol. Reading failure.

        2. This has been pretty obvious to the people in the “everyone else” category for a long time. Libertarians, as a group, aren’t interested in other people.

          1. But that is not true, at least as far as I can see it.

            I support libertarian ideas BECAUSE I care about the liberty of everyone. I don’t want you coerced by the state to do something you don’t want to do. I want you to be free to pursue your desires, whatever they may be. This other type of libertarianism, which is focused on “I want what’s due to me and screw the rest of you”, is completely foreign to me.

            1. I support the adoption of libertarian policies by Mexico.

              I don’t see how an influx of 40 million Mexicans and 100 million Chinese leads to a more libertarian society for me and my family.

              I lack the hubris to believe we can fix the world. Or host it.

              1. You and your family are not everyone. You and your family is biased as hell, and your bias does not determine anyone else’s liberty.

          2. That is half right.

            I don’t want you telling me what to do, and in exchange I won’t tell you what to do.

            This differs fundamentally from the more common premise that government should tell people what to do and therefore I want to control the government.

        3. I see Lefties and Anarchists lying about what Libertarianism is, so there’s that.

          They hate Libertarians and that is clear in what they say over and over.

          1. Nah. Libertarianism doesn’t bother me. It’s mostly harmless. Libertarians/libertarians, on the other hand, have convinced me that y’all aren’t anyone I’d want to drink a beer with.

            1. YOU assume we would want to have a beer with YOU.

              Libertarianism’s cousin Classic Liberalism created the United States of America and that is a huge threat to Socialism. Evidenced by all the non-Libertarians on here trying to undermine the USA and Libertarianism.

              1. What’s this “we” bit, kemo sabe?

            2. I would want to have a beer with you, EE. As long as you’re paying of course. 🙂

      2. What is it about Trump that has turned so many supposed government-sneerers into government lovers?

        Personally, I find it amusing that he puts leftists, progressives, and people who fucking love science on the side of groups casting magic enchantments to keep the vampires from traversing the imaginary line at the door frame. Like the lines actually mean something and the people inside the lines aren’t just bitter clingers.

      3. Remember to keep it all polit|11.28.18 @ 12:44PM|#
        How can you call yourself a libertarian and not applaud people thumbing their nose at officious bureaucrats? What is it about Trump that has turned so many supposed government-sneerers into government lovers?
        Government detests individuality. Libertarianism is all about individual rights. The two are incompatible.

        How can you lie about your motivations behind open borders?

        You are thinking of Anarchy.

        Libertarianism is perfectly compatible with tiny and limited government with enforcement of Rule of Law.

        1. Right, tiny and limited like Trump’s administration?

          War, tariffs, TrumpCare, managed industrials, subsidies to make up for the tariffs, yeah, that’s tiny and limited for sure.

          1. Right, tiny and limited like Trump’s administration?

            To be fair, Trump didn’t create the modern Imperial Presidency, his predecessors spent the previous 100 years creating the leviathan. IOW, the problem isn’t with the man currently wielding the power, but the fact that one man can have so much power in the first place.

          2. Trump is not a libertarian

            1. Yeah, tell that to our friend from Georgia…

        2. If libertarianism were all about individual rights, libertarians would’ve advocated dissolving all marital and family relations rather than selectively granting them to a(nother) protected class.

          But then, libertarianism has never been strictly about individual rights and specifically respects the rights of people to contract among themselves. The idea that it’s all about individual rights is a dumb argument advanced by people who want libertarianism to support their pet cause. Usually because they have a token victim to which “libertarians” should just automatically rally because individualism.

      4. It’s useful to remember that loveconstitution1789 is most likely a Russian troll.

    2. Unfortunately white supremacy and xenophobia are not limited to the United States.

      #OpenBordersForTheNetherlands

  2. …..the final solution.
    Not the best choice in phrasing.

  3. love it. loopholes are some of the best holes.

    1. Donut holes are pretty good too.

      1. Cake is the only true donut and blueberry is its prophet.

  4. Why are we assuming that the final asylum judgment was not the correct one?

    I am beginning to think that Reason supports open borders without limitation.

    1. Yeah, I’m a little perturbed about the vague explanation of ‘death threats due to his political activism in Armenia’. I’m not up-to-date on any given issue in Armenian politics but I don’t see much saying he was anti-government or dispelling the absolutely ignorant notion of there being bad actors on both sides. I’m sure David Duke has received death threats due to his political activism, would Reason be going to bat for getting him asylum in a country of his choosing?

      1. […] would Reason be going to bat for getting him asylum in a country of his choosing?

        Sounds good to me. If he wants to leave and that’s the lie he needs to do it, I see no reason to not support him.

        1. OK. Just don’t tell the Russian hackers seeking to influence our elections that they’re shoe ins for asylum as long as there are death threats involved.

      2. These folks should be able to obtain asylum in Canada according to Reason:

        Portland Food Cart Shuts Down Following Harassment by Occupy ICE Protesters

        Quote:
        A Portland food cart is closing down following harassment and alleged threats of violence from protestors who objected to the business serving federal immigration agents.

        Video taken by a female Happy Camper employee shows a demonstrator using a megaphone to call the staffer a “bitch” and accuse her of laughing at the victims of U.S. immigration laws.

        According to Scott Hakes, the last straw came when protestors threatened his 21-year-old daughter for serving food to a DHS employee. “If they catch her outside the cart, they’re going to hurt her. They’re constantly cussing at her and screaming at her,” he told KGW. According to the owners, protestors also threatened to burn down the cart.

        1. Another example of progressive “tolerance.”

    2. Correct. This gentleman went through the Dutch asylum process and asylum was denied to him. Yet Reason automatically assumes that he was automatically entitled to asylum. Perhaps there are more details to this story that Reason doesn’t care about?

      This is what “open borders” looks like – paying lip service to the the need for border security, while willfully frustrating democratically enacted immigration laws at every turn. This reminds me of the gun grabbers who start with “We support the Second Amendment, but… ” No, they don’t.

      1. Many Reason staff are Anarchists, so they hate Rule of Law.

        They use the term Due Process as some absolute right to do things and simultaneously try to undermine the Constitution.

      2. And you automatically assume that government is correct, absent further information. That’s called collectivism, bud.

        1. No it’s not. By his own admission, he did something in Armenia that caused some people to want to kill him. Despite that fact, the Dutch let him stay in a publicly managed asylum center for 9 yrs.

          You’re disingenuously advocating squatters’ rights over property owners’ and/or taxpayers’ rights.

    3. I suspect we are not hearing the reason the Dutch government is so keen on deporting the father of this family. The article as written implies it is annoyed because the judge granted asylum. There are probably other reasons behind it.

    4. Your default assumption is that the government is correct?

      1. Your default assumption is that the government is correct?

        No. The default position is that we don’t have enough information one way or the other.

        Keep in mind, they’d been living in an asylum center on the taxpayers dote. Insisting that the status quo be maintained is just as much collectivism as having them deported. By your metrics, the most libertarian and least collectivist stance would be not to have an asylum center in the first place and, absent that, people stay as shortly as possible.

  5. What are the rules for Dutch citizens who want to live in Armenia?

  6. Hettema understands that a never-ending church service isn’t the final solution.

    You know who else tried to find a final solution…

    1. The United Nations?

  7. 10-year-old me: Endless church? [groooooooooaaaaaaaaaaannnnnn]

    1. That’s pretty much the Catholic vision of Heaven.

      1. 10-year-old me was an altar boy.

  8. “And now, we shall read the Bible cover-to cover…”

    1. “The reading shall be performed by Stuttering Willem…”

  9. chemjeff radical individualist|11.28.18 @ 2:09PM|#
    “What are the consequences of 300 million guns in private hands in the US?
    What are the consequences of 2.9 billion cases of beer sold each year in the US?
    What are the consequences of 17 Big Macs sold every second in the US?

    If the lawful exercise of liberty is to be predicated only on its presumed positive outcomes, then explain why you think guns should not be regulated, or beer, or fast food.”

    Easy.
    The US government was originally far more ‘republic’ than ‘democrat’. Over time (see election of senators, for example), it has leaned far more ‘d’ in both senses. And that has delivered drastic reductions in personal freedom; I don’t think I need to point to more than FDR and LBJ in the last century and Obo in this one to make my point.
    So while consequentialism is certainly not the preferred consideration, when the consequences are a huge increase in government control of my life, you’ll forgive me a bit of sin.
    Put another way: False equivalence.

    1. I’m willing to accept that it can be justifiable, if the consequences are huge enough, that it *may be* acceptable to throw out the principles.

      So where do you draw the line?

  10. And for good reason?according to their asylum request, the father has received death threats due to his political activism in Armenia.

    You mean it’s like Brooklyn over there?

  11. After a few hrs. continuous church service, I’d call the authorities to rescue me from there!

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