Denmark OKs Law to Seize Migrant Assets

Anything worth over $1.5K will help pay for asylum seekers' housing, expenses
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2016 12:35 PM CST
Denmark OKs Law to Seize Migrant Assets
Syrian migrants arrive at the main train station in Copenhagen on their way to Sweden on Sept. 10, 2015.   (Finn Frandsen/POLFOTO via AP)

Those seeking asylum in Denmark with more than $1,500 in assets can now expect to part with anything above that amount thanks to a new law. Advancing what the country's PM has deemed "the most misunderstood bill in Denmark's history," Danish lawmakers voted 81-27 Tuesday to pass the bill, allowing authorities to confiscate assets from asylum seekers to help pay for housing and other expenses, CNN reports. The value of assets migrants can keep was amended from about $440 to the $1,500 mark, per the AP, but anything from money, jewelry, and watches to mobile phones, and computers can be seized, per the Danish immigration ministry (a rep who spoke to the Independent somewhat contradicted that, saying "assets … necessary to maintain a modest standard of living," such as watches and phones, could be kept). Exempt are "sentimental" items such as wedding rings and medals. Those for the law say it holds migrants to the same standard as citizens, who must sell assets over $1,500 before they can collect social benefits, the AP notes.

In exchange for this "payment," refugees get the same access to universal health care, education, and other benefits as citizens, a Liberal Party rep told CNN earlier this month. (The rep added, "We are not going to take the jewelry away from people. … [That] is outrageous.") The AP notes some German states and Switzerland have similar laws. But human rights groups are decrying the measure, with Amnesty International saying it's the latest step in a "dismal race to the bottom" of dealing with the migrant crisis. "To prolong the suffering of vulnerable people who have been ripped apart from their families by conflict or persecution is plain wrong," a rep says, per CNN. "Today's mean-spirited vote … seeks not only to pilfer the possessions refugees cling to." The new law also boosts the waiting period for refugees to apply to bring family over from one year to three, per the Independent. (More Denmark stories.)

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