COPENHAGEN, DENMARK —
Valuables have been seized from migrants for the first time since a controversial law went into force five months ago, Danish police said Thursday.
National police spokesman Per Fiig says the two men and three women carried dollars and euros worth a total of about 129,600 kroner ($19,300). They were arrested late Tuesday at Copenhagen's airport for using forged passports.
Fiig said in Thursday's statement the group, aged 26-35, immediately sought asylum.
"Danish police are every day attentive to asylum-seekers and foreigner staying illegally who could have valuables that could help to finance the costs of their stay,'' Fiig said. "Now police have found valuables that can be seized.
Police seized 79,600 kroner ($11,860) as each person was allowed to keep 10,000 kroner ($1,490), Fiig said.
Under the law, refugees and other migrants must hand over valuables worth more than 10,000 kroner. It was intended to help cover migrants' housing and food costs while their cases are being processed, but also an attempt to reduce Denmark's appeal to migrants.
Critics say the legislation that was presented by Denmark's center-right government and backed by a majority in Parliament is degrading and inhumane.
The nation has also extended the period that family members must wait before join a refugee in Denmark from one year to three.
Some German states also take assets from refugees, in line with laws regulating Germans receiving social assistance, and Switzerland requires asylum-seekers to hand over cash of more than 1,000 francs ($996) for similar reasons.
Denmark, a nation of 5.6 million people wedged between Germany and Sweden, received about 20,000 asylum-seekers last year, a small number compared with its neighbors.