For centuries the Netherlands was an immigrant nation that welcomed people who looked for a job and/or for tolerance. Especially in the 19th century and during the 1950s emigration was larger than immigration. Since 2003 it is the only Western European country where more people leave then settle. Until the 1940s the administration of migration flows was mainly the responsibility of local governments and of private associations. Most policy and organization efforts since then have been pursued at the national level and focused mainly on the administration of immigration. In dealing with substantial minority populations, Dutch policy has changed in the past 30 years from multiculturalism to assimilation emphasizing national citizenship. It is time, though, to consider a middle ground.
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