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Is Belgium's hard line on migrants about to get tougher?

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Is Belgium's hard line on migrants about to get tougher?

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Politicians in Belgium are to vote on legislation allowing police to search private homes for illegal immigrants.

The country's Parliamentary Committee on the Interior is considering a bill that would allow raids and arrests of undocumented migrants from private addresses. 

The bill has been heavily criticised by NGOs and rejected by a committee of judges who reviewed the proposal.

What does the draft legislation allow?

The draft bill allows police to search for and arrest unauthorised migrants in private homes and to hand out warrants for deportation.

Opposition

"This bill destroys the independence of the examining magistrate, a principle essential to any democratic society. The text can therefore not be voted on as it stands," NGOs explained in a note to legislators.

The LDH, along with several other Belgian parties including the Socialists, also oppose the bill.

Public opinion split

"Belgians have their own choice whether or not to accept migrants and the police can enforce that but certainly not by going inside people houses," one young man told euronews.

"It's hard because what I say sounds inhumane, but the NGOs aren't doing a good job so I don't see any reason why this shouldn't be allowed," countered a woman in the town of Mechelen.

What about the official view?

Philippe van Lindhout, co-Chair of the Association of Investigation Judges says it's a step too far.

"Investigating judges are the only people who can issue search warrants and one of our main professional obligations is to be the safe guard for fundamental rights. And one of those fundamental rights is the right of privacy, to find yourself at home. As we say, a man' s home is his castle".

What is the situation with migrants in Belgium?

The country has toughened its stance in recent months. There have been calls from human rights activists and political parties for the resignation of Theo Francken, the secretary of state for immigration.

They say his stance towards migrants from Africa and the Middle East is hostile and aggressive.

Following the dismantling of the Calais Jungle, many retreated to Brussels before attempting to cross to the UK.

The city's Maximilian Park briefly became a refugee camp in 2015-16.