13 February 2013
Amsterdam’s city council will stop using the terminology “autochtoon” and “allochtoon” to identify citizens. “Allochtoon” refers to first or second generation migrants, as well as third generation Dutch with at least one grandparent who is an immigrant. In colloquial discourse “allochtoon” refers to those of non-western ethnic heritage and “autochtoon” to autochthnous or ethnic Dutch. The council is eradicating the term on the basis that it promotes a division between “them and us”. With the change, a “foreign Amsterdammer” will now be defined as someone born abroad, or whose parents were born abroad. This is not the first attempt to shift the use of the problematic terminology, which is prolific not only in Amsterdam’s city council but throughout the nation and in popular discourse.
The integration of immigrants into Dutch society is improving but segregation is increasing in some neighbourhoods and in schools, integration minister Eberhard van der Laan told MPs on Tuesday. The minister (Labour) sent an annual report with integration statistics and a letter with the government’s vision to parliament.
Claiming immigrants should have the desire to participate in society and speak the language, van der Laan envisions more effort to encourage older immigrants to take integration courses. And in education, efforts will be made to decrease segregation in schools, by using double waiting lists, changing registration procedures and better information for parents.
Throughout his speech and the accompanying documents, Van der Laan used the words nieuwe (new) Nederlanders to describe immigrants, rather than allochtoon (alien). Dutch News reports that he did so because “using allochtoon refers to your origins. Nieuwe Nederlander shows you belong in the Netherlands”.