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Denmark to Refugees: Want In? Hand Over Those Valuables

Posted on Jan 26, 2016

  A banner in a train station in Copenhagen, Denmark, last September. (d13 / Shutterstock)

Those seeking asylum in Denmark will have to pay to stay, following a referendum Tuesday that established new guidelines for refugees, including stipulations about handing over certain personal belongings upon arrival.

Whether the acquisitive new law is primarily designed to make asylum seekers think twice before choosing Denmark as their destination, or whether it’s more about how to offset the potential costs of accommodating newcomers, the effect is the same—they’ll have to part with their valuables. The New York Times offered details following the vote:

Under the law, which passed by a sizable majority after several hours of debate, refugees who enter Denmark with assets of more than 10,000 kroner, about $1,450, would have to contribute toward the costs of their stay. After a global outcry over the law, however, goods with sentimental value like wedding rings and family portraits are exempt from seizure.

The bill also stipulates that asylum seekers must wait three years before they can apply to bring their families to Denmark, a provision that some advocates for refugees have criticized as inhumane.

As Europe confronts its greatest movement of refugees since World War II, even formerly open countries like Denmark are erecting barriers amid concerns that the newcomers could strain welfare systems, threaten security and undermine the nations’ quality of life.

Mirroring debates elsewhere in Europe, the debate in Denmark has been deeply influenced by a far-right populist party, the Danish People’s Party, which has been appealing to voters by warning against the perils of too much immigration.

Denmark’s prime minister has warned that the 1951 United Nations treaty governing the rights of refugees might need updating. After Sweden imposed identity checks for travelers coming from Denmark, Denmark did the same along its border with Germany. Hungary had already built a razor-wire fence along its border with Croatia.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

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