How Not to Welcome Refugees

Lead_960Edward Delman at The Atlantic:

On Tuesday, the Danish parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill seemingly designed to solidify Denmark’s reputation as Western Europe’s least attractive country for refugees—a hard-earned title at a time when many of its neighbors are tightening border controls as people continue to flee conflicts in the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere. The law empowers Danish authorities to seize any assets exceeding $1,450 from asylum-seekers in order to help pay for the migrants’ subsistence in the country (items of “sentimental value,” such as wedding rings, are exempt). It also extends, from one year to three, the period that those who are resettled must wait to apply for family members to join them in Denmark.

While Denmark has not traditionally been a magnet for immigration, it hasn’t necessarily been an unwelcome place for migrants either. Over the course of the 20th century, the country of nearly 6 million became home to refugees and immigrants from the Soviet bloc, the Balkans, the Middle East, and beyond. Today, immigrants and their descendants account for 10 percent of the total population. Denmark has also been a prominent advocate for refugees and asylum-seekers. It was one of the first countries to become a party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, and the Danish Refugee Council—a humanitarian group partly funded by the Danish government and the Danish public—is actively involved in supporting refugees and internally displaced peoples around the world.

more here.