Denmark’s New Immigration Law

Posted by on Jun 9, 2021 in World

Here in the United States, one of the most hotly debated issues of the past few years has been what to do about immigrants and refugees. But the U.S. is not the only nation grappling with this challenging question. Europe faces a refugee crisis, largely as a result of the ongoing civil war in Syria. Here, btw takes a closer look at Denmark’s newly passed law.

The Gateway to Europe

Since the start of the war in Syria ten years ago, Denmark has seen a huge influx in its refugee numbers. In fact, 21,000 asylum seekers came to Denmark in 2015 alone. Today, about 35,000 Syrians live in Denmark. A year ago, Danish officials began re-examining the cases of more than 1,200 Syrian refugees. In May 2021, Denmark revoked residency status for more than two hundred of them. Denmark claimed that parts of Syria near Damascus are now safe enough for them to return. Denmark officials say that because conditions in Damascus are improved, these Syrians no longer have grounds to request temporary residence permits from Denmark. Thse Syrians, however, argue that they have built new lives in Denmark and that they face the possibility of punishment and torture if they return to Syria.

The New Law

The new immigration law is an amendment to the Danish Aliens Act. It passed earlier this month by a vote of 70 to 24 and will allow Denmark to send refugees to a country outside of the European Union (EU) while their cases are being reviewed. The Danish government stated that it hopes this new policy will deter people from wanting to come to Denmark, since they know they will be sent elsewhere upon their arrival.

Global Responses

The law is being criticized by human rights groups and international organizations. The European Commission has said that refugees who are sent away to a third country will not receive adequate protection. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) called the new policy irresponsible. The DRC is also worried about the possibility that other nations with high refugee numbers will look at the Danish model and decide to send their refugees to other countries as well. The United Nations (UN) and Human Rights Watch have added that the Danish government has a legal responsibility to protect its asylum-seekers but may not be able to do that effectively if the refugees are in another country.

What Happens Next?

The Danish government has made it clear that the new policy won’t take effect right away. First, it needs to find other nations who will be willing to house the refugees. Denmark has recently signed a migration deal with Rwanda, so it is possible that the government will begin sending its refugees there. The Danish government has also been in ongoing talks with Tunisia, Ethiopia, and Egypt.

Dig Deeper Denmark is not the only country that has considered sending refugees somewhere else to be processed. The UK has suggested sending asylum-seekers to Ascension Island, while the Australian government has proposed sending them to Nauru or Papua New Guinea. Use Internet resources to find out more about one of these immigration policies. What was the response? How do these proposals align with, or differ from, the new Danish law?