Dan­ish law­mak­ers OK seiz­ing valu­ables from mi­grants

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Dan­ish law­mak­ers voted Tues­day to let po­lice seize valu­ables worth more than $1,500 from asy­lum-seek­ers to help cover their hous­ing and food costs while their cases are be­ing pro­cessed.

Af­ter more than three hours of de­bate, the mi­nor­ity Lib­eral Party govern­ment’s bill was adopted in an 81-27 vote, with the sup­port of the op­po­si­tion So­cial Democrats and the anti-im­mi­gra­tion Dan­ish Peo­ple’s Party — Den­mark’s two largest par­ties. One law­maker ab­stained and 70 oth­ers were ab­sent. Amend­ments were made, in­clud­ing rais­ing the value of items the asy­lum-seek­ers can keep from 3,000 kroner ($440) to 10,000 kroner ($1,500). That brings it in line with wel­fare rules for Danes, who must sell as­sets worth more than 10,000 kroner be­fore they can re­ceive so­cial ben­e­fits. Den­mark re­ceived about 20,000 asy­lum-seek­ers last year, one of the high­est rates per capita in the EU.

“We are talk­ing about a real ex­o­dus,’’ said Martin Hen­rik­sen, im­mi­gra­tion spokesman for the pop­ulist Dan­ish Peo­ple’s Party. “More needs to be done: we need more bor­der con­trols. We need tighter im­mi­gra­tion rules.’’

Stephane Du­jar­ric, spokesman for the UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral, crit­i­cized Den­mark, say­ing peo­ple who make the ef­fort to reach Europe “should be treated with com­pas­sion and re­spect’’ and with full rights as refugees.

Two small cen­trist par­ties and two left-lean­ing groups op­posed the law and at­tacked the govern­ment for tight­en­ing Den­mark’s im­mi­gra­tion laws.

“This is a sym­bolic move to scare peo­ple away’’ from seek­ing asy­lum in Den­mark, said Jo­hanne Sch­midt-Nielsen of the op­po­si­tion left Red-Green Al­liance that op­posed the law. Her party col­league Hen­ning Hyllested called the law “sickly na­tion­al­ism.’’

“I don’t think any­one who comes here has 10,000 kroner, be­cause if I had 10,000 kroner I wouldn’t be here,’’ said Feraidoon Ferogh, a 24-year-old asy­lum seeker from Afghanistan.

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