Denmark is set to pass controversial legislation that will require asylum seekers to hand over cash or valuables worth more than €1,300 to help cover government expenses on room and board.
The so-called “migrants bill” has already been revised after widespread criticism from across the political spectrum.
One source said Denmark may set up a public auction to sell valuables seized by police from refugees, noting there is likely a national market for gold and jewelry.
What constitutes sentimental
On Monday (Jan 25) the matter was discussed in the EU parliament where Denmark’s Immigration Minister Inger Stojberg said sentimental items would be exempt as she explained the bill.
“We also think it is fair and reasonable that those asylum seekers who do bring enough assets with them should cover the costs of their food and lodging during the asylum process itself.”
European MP Sophia in`t VELD of the ALDE responded:
“How do you actually define sentimental value? If somebody travels thousands of miles risking their lives with probably just a small bag with them, is it not that every object that they are carrying IS of great personal value, otherwise they wouldn’t have bothered.”
The refugee debate is a hot topic in Denmark with the country having taken in a record 20,000 last year. The government is responding to a growing anti-immigration sentiment but the new legislation has stirred many emotions.
Member of Denmark’s Liberale Parti Birthe Rønn Hornbæk, who is a former minister said: “When you seize a refugee’s jewelry, it has a huge symbolic impact… the prime minister says there has been a misunderstanding, but there has not . Because its all there in the bill. It has really led to many thinking about the German concentration camps”.
More changes on the way
The legislation which is designed to deter would-be asylum seekers also includes possibly more significant changes such as limiting asylum to one year at a time and a bar on refugees from bringing their families to the country for at least three years.
Denmark is also considering moving migrants into camps outside its towns ans cities, a tactic that the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF) which hopes will shift the focus of government immigration police to repatriation rather than integration.