The Cable

Trump Wants to Quiz Potential Immigrants on Their Values. The Netherlands Already Does That.

Trump's plan for an "ideology" test takes its cues from a Dutch immigration law that discriminates against conservative Muslims.

FAIRFIELD, CT - AUGUST 13:  Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump address supporters on August 13, 2016 in Fairfield, Connecticut. Thousands of people in the traditionally Democratic-leaning state came out to see Trump speak at Sacred Heart University.  (Photo by )
FAIRFIELD, CT - AUGUST 13: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump address supporters on August 13, 2016 in Fairfield, Connecticut. Thousands of people in the traditionally Democratic-leaning state came out to see Trump speak at Sacred Heart University. (Photo by )

First, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed a blanket ban on Muslims visiting the United States, suggesting that anyone of the Muslim faith poses a threat to American security. Then, that proposal morphed into a ban on immigrants from any country afflicted by terrorism — including from U.S. allies like the Philippines. And on Monday, Donald Trump announced that if elected to the highest office in the United States, he would use “extreme, extreme vetting” to determine who gets to enter the country, and who doesn’t.

“We should admit to our country only those who share our values and respect our people,” he said. “Only those who we expect to flourish in our country and embrace a tolerant American society should be issued visas.”

Though Trump didn’t go into detail, his campaign aides told the Associated Press that the candidate plans to introduce a test that would question applicants’ views of social issues such as religious freedom, gay rights, and gender equality.

Sounds like Trump took a page out of the Netherlands’ book: His proposal bears a strong resemblance to a 2006 Dutch immigration law, which similarly tests whether would-be citizens share the country’s secular values.

The Dutch exam contains questions for those from what the law vaguely describes as “non-Western countries” on social policy issues like nudity or public displays of same-sex affection. Such behavior is widely accepted in the Netherlands, which has been accused by human rights groups of using the quiz to keep out certain nationalities, as well as devout Muslims from around the world.

According to groups like Human Rights Watch, the test was designed to reduce the number of immigrants from Morocco and Turkey, both Muslim countries that have supplied the Netherlands with two of its three largest immigrant communities

Applicants must take the exam before leaving their country, and, to pass, demonstrate a basic command of Dutch language, as well as tolerance of Dutch cultural norms. “Immigrants do not want to learn the language; we have to force them to do so,” says the exam’s introductory text.

A film provided by the government as preparation material for the written test shows two men kissing in a meadow. “What would you do if you saw two men kissing in public?” it asks the viewer, before posing the loaded question, “would this disturb you?” In another scene, an attractive, topless woman sunbathes while the narrator explains that Dutch people “do not make a fuss about nudity.” If these images, which would be considered profane in many Islamic countries, weren’t enough to offend and discourage its intended audience, the film also warns of traffic jams, unemployment, integration problems, and even flooding in the largely below-sea level country.

The patronizing tone of the integration exam was echoed in fall 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis, when the country’s junior justice minister penned a stern warning to potential immigrants. His letter promised “an austere reception” for asylum-seekers and told them that if they came to the Netherlands, some would necessarily be lodged in shipping containers and converted office spaces.

Photo credit: JOHN MOORE/Getty Images

Henry Johnson is a fellow at Foreign Policy. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a degree in history and previously wrote for LobeLog. @HenryJohnsoon
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