News / Middle East

    Denmark Faces Criticism For Immigrant Reforms

    Denmark Faces Criticism for Immigrant Reformsi
    X
    January 27, 2016 6:38 AM
    Denmark adopted Tuesday a new law that asylum-seekers have to hand over valuables above about $1,500 to help pay for their food and living costs in Denmark, as well as wait three years before they can bring in family members. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Zlatica Hoke

    Danish lawmakers are defending their country's new law on immigration, aimed at making the small Scandinavian country less attractive to migrants.

    Under a law adopted Tuesday, asylum-seekers have to hand over valuables worth more than 10,000 Danish crowns (about $1,500) to help pay for their food and living costs in Denmark. Furthermore, they will have to wait three years before they can bring in family members.

    Rights groups have criticized the decision, but Danish officials say the country already has done more than its fair share to help relieve Europe's immigration crisis.

    What makes Denmark most attractive to migrants is its generous social welfare system.

    Denmark's Minister of Immigration and Integration Inger Stojberg listens to the debate in the Danish Parliament, Jan. 26, 2016.
    Denmark's Minister of Immigration and Integration Inger Stojberg listens to the debate in the Danish Parliament, Jan. 26, 2016.

    "Denmark is in a situation where we have received so many asylum-seekers in the past year that our very small -- you know we are one of Europe's smallest countries -- our welfare economy is under a lot of pressure," said Marcus Knuth, a Danish government spokesman.

    To further deter asylum-seekers from heading to Denmark, the parliament has imposed a three-year waiting period for those  who want to bring in their family members. A spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency expressed concern about the new measures.

    "This relates to a number of things, including reduced social benefits, restrictive access to family unification, and this at a time when the need for solidarity and responsibility sharing at the EU level really is the first priority," said Adrian Edwards, UNHCR spokesman.

    Danish officials say the rules that apply to immigrants are no different from those that apply to Danes.

    "We're simply asking that if asylum-seekers -- in the rare case where they do come with enough means to pay for themselves then -- following exactly the same rules as for Danish citizens wishing to be on unemployment benefits: if you can pay for yourself, well then you should pay for yourself before the Danish welfare system does it," Knuth said.

    Few migrants are worried about this part of the law.

    "People who come here, do not have money with them. Right now, I don't have money to cut my hair," one migrant said.

    FILE - A new migrant reception camp is seen in Vordingborg, 100 km south of Copenhagen, Denmark, Nov. 26, 2015. The camp has the capacity to hold up to 2,000 people.
    FILE - A new migrant reception camp is seen in Vordingborg, 100 km south of Copenhagen, Denmark, Nov. 26, 2015. The camp has the capacity to hold up to 2,000 people.

    Another migrant said, "If I had 10,000 kroner (1,500 US dollars), I'd never come here."

    Separation from families

    But many will be affected by the imposed separation from their families, a measure human rights groups have criticized the most.

    "And we find there's a quite clear basis in international human rights law to say that that is a violation of the individual rights to family life," said Jonas Christoffersen, head of the Danish Institute for Human Rights.

    Denmark registered more than 20,000 asylum applications last year, making the country of 5.5 million, one of the top European Union destinations for migrants, along with Germany and Sweden.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 27, 2016 9:28 PM
    Spit, Scotch tape, chewing gum, and paper clips are all that's holding the EU together now. There are rebellions or problems in Hungary, Poland, Greece, Denmark, Britain, and a lot of dislike for the whole thing throughout the entire EU. Schengen is as good as dead at least for the time being. The Euro remains a badly flawed currency and its survival is still questionable. The arguments over how to spread the burden of the refugees and migrants is a hot topic of debate (NIMBY which means not in my back yard.) Meanwhile the EU is under threat from Mideast terrorists and is in a state of confrontation with Russia that could escalate at any time.

    It seems to me that the only currency that should be in the IMF basket is the US dollar. I wouldn't hold any of the others and I wouldn't invest in gold. People who talk about a gold back currency don't know what they're talking about. There is far more currency of the major banks in circulation than there is gold to back them at current prices. Why should a nation's wealth be measured by how much of a yellow metal it owns. Absurd.

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    January 27, 2016 3:52 PM
    Maybe posting all those cartoons about Mohammed and Allah all over the place will deter Moslems from going to Denmark. If nothing else Danes can use those cartoons to express how they feel about a large number of Moslem refugees and migrants entering their country. At the same time they can also spit in the eye of their government. They still have freedom of speech there for the time being...I think.

    by: gh from: mpls
    January 27, 2016 8:28 AM
    Good for Denmark!! I can find Islam anywhere, in numerous countries, but I can find Danish culture in only one country. They built that country, they own that country, they can make whatever decisions they must to protect their small culture. The response to their actions has been positive on a scale of 10-1 no matter what the media claims

    by: Bill Williams from: Canada
    January 27, 2016 6:13 AM
    The European left has had their faces spit on..."if I had the money,I would never come here." ?! The migrants are becoming synonymous with "bad neighbor".

    by: unforgiven
    January 27, 2016 3:07 AM
    I moved to Danmark around 6 years ago and, even though I was born in another European country, I had to pay my way from my savings and assets. I learned basic danish, got a job and I am now putting money into my adopted country. At no point was I given aid in the form of welfare and was told if I had savings and/or assets I had to use those first. I accepted this and I have no problem with the Danish way of welfare. If I had to do this why should anyone else be given special considerations?
    In Response

    by: Bill Williams from: Canada
    January 27, 2016 6:15 AM
    Same in Canada...if someone has resources,they must use those before being eligible for welfare. Im sure many migrants are hard working folks,but the quotes I read are often discouraging.

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