A group of six migrants, including a young child, are walking outside with few belongings
  Migrants in Padborg, Denmark, walking to police vans last week after officers checked the identity papers of people on a train arriving from Germany. Credit Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Denmark to force refugees to give up valuables upon arrival

13 January, 2016

”Denmark is poised to pass a law requiring newly arrived refugees to hand over valuables, including gold or jewelry, to help pay for the costs of lodging them. Under the proposal, asylum seekers who enter the country with more than 10,000 kroner, or about $1,450, in assets would have to help finance their stay.”
– The New York Times, Denmark Moves to Require Refugees to Hand Over Valuables

Isn’t this just outrageous? Will they collect those valuables in train stations, reminding us all of images from another era?

I would understand that, in resettlement cases, a proportionate financial contribution be expected from refugee families who can afford it (this could be assessed with the help of UNHCR). But taking from people who have risked so much and have little in the first place is beyond comprehension.

If it is effectively a mechanism to offset the cost of the welcome, it is clumsy at best and enforcement will be difficult: it is an incitement to hide one’s possessions. A much better strategy would be to invest in their placement on the labour market (through recognition of prior learning, competencies and skills, as well as language courses and professional training) in order to have them pay income tax as rapidly as possible. This would allow them to quickly become “productive citizens” and contribute to State coffers.

But, most probably, by sending out the message that migrants will be treated like frauds and criminals, it is simply another nationalist populist strategy to deter migrants from coming to Denmark. And it will unfortunately prove quite effective in achieving that result.

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