Denmark anti-immigration party pushes for further refugee curbs

Friday 22/01/2016
Will new measures slow arrivals?

COPENHAGEN - Denmark will probably tighten its asylum policies further, the country's influential anti-immigration party said Wednesday, a day after lawmakers passed a controversial bill allowing authorities to seize valuables from refugees.

The Danish People's Party (DPP) has already reached agreement with Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen's minority government to retroactively lower social benefits for those granted asylum under the previous centre-left coalition, the DPP spokesman on immigration issues Martin Henriksen said.

He also expected legislation to be passed making it easier to deport refugees who have committed crimes.

"We have influenced them in several different areas and we see that as our job," Henriksen said of the government.

"It wouldn't be the first time that the Danish People's Party has to work to get curbs (on immigration) through parliament," he added.

On Tuesday, when Denmark's parliament adopted the reforms aimed at dissuading migrants from seeking asylum by delaying family reunifications and allowing authorities to confiscate migrants' valuables, Rasmussen's right-wing Venstre government said it had no immediate plans to tighten asylum rules further.

"At the moment, no, we do not. We've introduced several pieces of legislation to keep the amount of asylum at a manageable level," Marcus Knuth, Venstre's spokesman on immigration issues, said.

In order to pass legislation the right-wing minority government needs parliamentary backing from the DPP, which became Denmark's biggest right-wing party in last year's general election.

"A lot of the curbs that were adopted yesterday have only been introduced because the Danish People's Party has pushed for them," Henriksen said.

"The government initially proposed a package of migration laws that was much smaller than what was passed yesterday," he added, noting that the DPP was the first party in parliament to raise the issue of whether migrants' valuables could be used to pay for their stay in asylum centres.

The DPP is also behind a resolution, passed by lawmakers last week, pushing the government to look into the construction of temporary housing complexes outside cities for refugees, like the country did during the Balkans war in the 1990s.

The DPP sees it as a first step towards building state-run camps where refugees would stay without integrating into Danish society.

The government has opposed the idea.

International outrage against Denmark has focused on the plans to take cash and valuables from refugees to help pay for their stay in asylum centres, while rights activists have blasted a proposed three-year delay for family reunifications as a breach of international conventions.