Denmark Looking To Asset Forfeiture To Solve Its Immigrant 'Problem'
from the if-you're-lucky,-you'll-be-allowed-to-keep-the-bootstraps-you'll-be dept
For several decades, the US presented itself as the “land of opportunity” — a welcoming place where foreign citizens could come to escape religious oppression, endless wars, poverty or vicious dictatorial regimes. This has morphed over the last several years — thanks to endless wars of our own (Drugs, Terrorism) — into the US acting as the “land of hostility,” where foreign citizens are viewed as freeloaders at best, and terrorists/drug runners at worst.
Still, the ideal lives on, even if it is rarely vocalized. And for many foreigners, other countries present a lesser-of-two-evils choice: they can either stay in their particular hellhole, or roll the immigration dice and hope for a chance at living an improved life in a new land — where they’ll be viewed with suspicion and treated as unwanted interlopers.
Many European countries have never thrown out the welcome mat for foreign citizens. Instead, there’s been a grudging acceptance of the inevitable. Other countries have devoted lots of time and effort to erecting legislative “KEEP OUT” signs. Denmark is one of those countries, and it’s now looking to borrow a very American tradition to discourage incoming immigrants: asset forfeiture. It used to be that immigrants could begin a new and better life by arriving in a foreign land with only a suitcase and a dream. Now, it appears they won’t be allowed to keep the suitcase. (via The Honest Courtesan)
The government is considering a law that would allow authorities to confiscate jewelry from refugees entering the country. The proposal is almost certain to pass Parliament…
“The bill presented on 10 December 2015 provides the Danish authorities with the power to search clothes and luggage of asylum seekers — and other migrants without a permit to stay in Denmark — with a view to finding assets which may cover the expenses,” the Danish Ministry of Integration said in an email to The Washington Post.
No information has been forthcoming as to whether immigration officials will be able to confiscate gold fillings directly from immigrants’ heads, but the details of the confiscation program are still being hammered out. One thing appears to be certain: the new law will be applied retroactively.
The law would also impact refugees already in the country. It is included in an asylum policy bill that is expected to pass Parliament in January and would be set to take effect by next February. Police authorities would be allowed to seize valuables and cash amounts they deem expensive enough.
Officials note that immigrants will be allowed to keep all the trappings of a “modest” lifestyle, like “watches, mobile phones” and whatever the government can be convinced holds some “sentimental value.”
The justification for the robbery program is that immigrants must offset the expenses they rack up — not that Denmark’s government actually hands out more perks to citizens than many other European nations.
“Refugees who have been granted a residence permit can make full use of the free Danish school, education (including tertiary education) and health system on the same level as everyone else in Denmark,” the ministry said.
Denmark’s government likely won’t be collecting much from immigrants for a couple of reasons. For one, refugees and other immigrants rarely arrive with the proverbial “suitcase full of diamonds” (a supposition actually used during the debate of the pending bill). Most only arrive with whatever belongings survive their escape from their former country, which isn’t going to be much, thanks to their former governments being just as willing to strip them of their belongings as they flee the country or being forced to hand over valuables to slightly-more-benign human traffickers for safe passage.
The other reason Denmark’s government won’t be grabbing much is that the bill isn’t meant to enrich the state. It’s just meant to heavily nudge refugees into selecting some other European nation as their destination. Denmark doesn’t have to wall off its borders. All it has to do is look less inviting than its neighbors. Letting customs agents decide what refugees can and can’t live without should do it.