The mayor of a Dutch city has admitted to hiding deported refugees, saying he “followed my heart, not the rules.”
Weert Mayor Jos Heijman was caught organizing a hideout for a Syrian family that was denied asylum in the Netherlands. Heijman, who represents the liberal D66 party, was simultaneously petitioning the national government to get the deportations reversed.
The family of a woman and four children were deported to Germany, the country where they first applied for asylum, in accordance with the European Union’s Dublin rules. When the family was once again denied asylum in Germany, Heijman helped refugee shelter volunteers hide the family.
“I knew about this and I did not try to stop the volunteers. I support them,” Heijman told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “In this case I followed my heart, not the rules.”
Heijman told the local council he didn’t regret breaking the law because he couldn’t stand watching the family split apart.
The Netherland’s Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said it was unclear if an investigation against Heijman would be opened, but admitted that “in principle everyone should stick to the rules.”
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