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Latin American Immigrants in the Netherlands

There are more than 120.000 Latin American immigrants currently living in the Netherlands. They come to the Netherlands for various reasons, that is why they can not be considered as a coherent group. However, as we found out thanks to our investigation, during and after the process of their immigration most of them encounter the same problems. After identifying it, in this project the Foundation Empower Yourself worked together with bachelor student European Language and Culture Tereza Dra┼żanová decided to have a closer look at this issue. Since there was a great lack of information regarding the topic of immigration from Latin America to the Netherlands, we aim to open the debate in the academic field, as well as among the broad public. We started by conducting an investigation in the form of an online survey and personal interviews, targeting respondents who are from Latin America, have Spanish as their native language and are currently living in the Netherlands. After some preliminary research, we decided to focus mainly on the barriers related to language and lack of information.

Common barriers for immigrants
Common barriers for immigrants

“Our main and final goal is to facilitate the process of immigration and integration of Latin Americans to the Netherlands.”

By talking to this specific group of people, we aimed to identify what are the main barriers that they have to face at any point apart from the moment when they decide to immigrate from their home country in Latin America to the Netherlands, even after their arrival. This way we seek to take the first step in opening the conversation about this topic and, thus, be able to further investigate the common problems for these immigrants and propose possible solutions to them. Finally, we would like to reach our main and best possible objective: help Latin Americans with the process of their immigration to the Netherlands so that they feel at home and can participate in Dutch society quickly.

“I can find any important information in Spanish, on either municipality level or on an official website ran by the Dutch government.”
“I can find any important information in Spanish, on either municipality level or on an official website ran by the Dutch government.”

What does it mean?

As the results of our survey clearly reflect, the lack of information regarding the topic of immigration from Latin America to the Netherlands is an alarming issue. This finding was, consequently, also confirmed by several personal interviews that were conducted with Latin American individuals living in the Netherlands.

Should all official information regarding immigration be available in Latin American Spanish, or is it enough thainformation in standard "castellano"?
Should all official information regarding immigration be available in Latin American Spanish, or is it enough thainformation in standard "castellano"?

“I think the biggest problem is the lack of information for us in Spanish. The IND (Dutch Ministry of Immigration) offers basically all the necessary information, but only in Dutch and English. I speak with a lot of Mexican women and they tell me the same. Of course, there are people who speak and understand English, but for example a lot of my Mexican friends have online businesses and they don’t need to learn English for their jobs. But still, they do need to know about the Dutch laws, taxes and many other important things.”

- Juliana, 46 (Mexican living in the Netherlands since 2017)

On a scale from 1-7, how frustrating is it that there is no important information available in your native language?
On a scale from 1-7, how frustrating is it that there is no important information available in your native language?

Finally, we managed to identify the most significant issues encountered by Latin Americans seeking home in the Netherlands. Firstly, we discovered that there has been a lack of academic research about this topic for many years. Meanwhile, we also found out that there is a lack of practical and especially official information for the immigrants. Earlier in this project bachelor-student Annetje Gleichmann conducted her research on stress and anxiety caused by having to learn a new language (see her work “Latinos en los Países Bajos, if you’re interested to learn more about this topic). This project is just the first small, but still fundamental, step in the process for improving the lives of many Latin Americans who immigrated to the Netherlands, or who are planning to do so. In case we manage to collect even more evidence proving our discoveries, we would like to send an official letter to the Dutch government proposing some new ideas, including translation to Spanish of the official Dutch website of te IND. Therefore, your voice matters!

What type of information would you like to have available in Spanish? About Dutch...
What type of information would you like to have available in Spanish? About Dutch...
Last modified:18 April 2023 11.49 a.m.
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