Denmark is tightening its asylum system with the passage of new laws referred to as a 'paradigm shift' by officials, Danmarks Radio reports.
The bill, formally titled 'Act 140,' was agreed upon in Parliament by the populist right-wing Danish People's Party (DPP) and the Social Democrats (SD) and will go into effect on March 1st.
A primary aim of the legislation is to reduce the number of 'refugees' in the country by focusing on repatriation instead of integration, according to DPP chairman Peter Skaarup.
"You have to get used to the fact that when you come to Denmark, you are here temporarily, and once you have had temporary shelter, you go back again," Skaarup said.
Key points of the bill include -
- Residence permits for foreigners must be temporary and can be more easily revoked or not renewed.
- Refugees must return to their home countries once it is safe enough to do so.
- The Minister of Immigration can set a national limit on family reunifications (chain migration) on a month-to-month basis.
- Penalties for breaking an entry ban are significantly increased, with much stiffer prison sentences for those caught in Denmark after being expelled.
- Social welfare benefits to migrants will be reduced.
Immigration and Integration Minister Inger Støjberg, who is known as a relative hardliner, says she expects a "noticeable effect" on the migrant population in Denmark as a result of the new laws.
"We simply have to have refugees return when they no longer need our protection," Støjberg told TV2. "It has always been the case that the day that there is peace in one's home country, you travel home and rebuild your country. But you must note that nine out of ten refugees remain in Denmark. And that is, of course, completely unsustainable."
"It is untenable if we are both to protect those who need our protection but also to keep those who no longer need our protection."
The Danish government hopes to send home at least 25,000 migrants who have arrived in the last five years.
Denmark appears to be moving in a different direction on issues related to immigration than many European countries, recently announcing plans to quarantine certain foreign criminals on an isolated island and stripping a Moroccan jihadist of his Danish citizenship in a landmark legal ruling.
The DPP has also called to harden Denmark's border with crime-ridden Sweden.
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