THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - In a mass deportation, Dutch authorities sent 40 Nigerian asylum seekers back to their home country Wednesday, the 10th expulsion of illegal immigrants this year.
The Justice Ministry said the Nigerians were escorted on a special flight by Dutch soldiers. Some of the refugees had criminal records, it said.
Police are allowed to apprehend immigrants only if they are suspected of a crime, but that could change when the new government takes over next month.
Dutch newspapers reported Wednesday that the three coalition parties agreed any immigrant who cannot show valid residency papers should not be allowed to stay. The report said the parties also want to set up special police squads to detain and deport illegal immigrants.
Special police units would ensure that immigrants lacking a residence permit will no longer "be wandering around in our country," Gerrit Zalm, leader of the Liberal Party, was quoted as saying by the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.
In another effort to step up the fight against illegal immigration, the upcoming government also plans to tighten rules for marriage with someone from outside the Netherlands.
A permit for a partner will only be given to an applicant older than 21_ rather than the current age of 18 — who earns at least $1,410 per month.
Immigration authorities began using special flights last year to speed up the expulsion of rejected asylum seekers.
"The alternative is transporting them one by one escorted by security officers on regular flights," said Martin Bruinsma, spokesman of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Hundreds of refugees have been sent to Congo, Cameroon, Romania, Suriname, Togo, Kosovo and Bulgaria since the beginning of this year.