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.

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Comments on “Denmark Looking To Asset Forfeiture To Solve Its Immigrant 'Problem'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Reminder

Umm, because the author of the article already involed that exact same imagery in an attempt to make a program that even he is honest enough to admit probably won’t actually do much of anything look a lot scarier than it really is?

Unfortunately, that one admission is essentially all of the intellectual honesty we get in this article. When you start out by shamelessly trotting out a blatant lie, (that the USA is hostile to immigrants,) you’ve pretty much blown your credibility right there. What the USA is hostile to is illegal immigrants, because we don’t like any sort of criminals who cheat to get ahead. Being immigrants has nothing to with it, except that that’s the way they’re cheating and breaking the law. Conveniently ignoring that simple fact reeks of the sort of PC nonsense that Techdirt is usually better than.

Very disappointed in this article.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Reminder

I’m thinking of all those dirt poor women from third world countries (potential emigrants) whose only built up assets they have is in the form of jewelry (gold) that she wears. She doesn’t have a bank account.

Let’s do it to the Banksters first. “Welcome to the land of milk and honey sir. Your bank card please. Sign here.”

Seegras (profile) says:

Re: Reminder

Actually, some Danish police officers already saw this as well, and are putting up resistance against the law.

One guy noted: “I’ve not become police officer to rob refugees” and that his grandparents had been in the Danish resistance (against the Nazis) and would not have appreciated his grandson “breaking gold teeth out of the mouth or extracting valuables out of the underwear of refugees”.

Personanongrata says:

How Very National Socialist of Denmark

The government is considering a law that would allow authorities to confiscate jewelry from refugees entering the country.

Government? No.

Criminal enterprise? Yes.

What next in Denmark? Mandating all persons acknowledge each other in public with the Nazi salute while goose-stepping about?


Does the Danish asset forfeiture “law” apply only to poverty stricken refugees or can wealthy immigrants also have their property stolen in the name of the state?

Perhaps National Socialist jurist Carl Schmitt could be recalled from the deepest depths of Hades to adjudicate the issue in favor of the Danish National Socialist party.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How Very National Socialist of Denmark

The current proposal has a limit of about 500$ in cash or objects of the same value.
The police has been out critizising the “objects of higher than 500$ value” since they aren’t appraisers.

You might think of the proposal as a joke since it certainly sounds like such. However, the law on social security for anyone else has a clause like that, but at about 1300$. If you own anything of that value barring certain specified “necessities” you are not eligible for the about 1350$ you can get each month pre-tax…

Now, the discrepancy between the 500$ value and the 1300$ value for the corresponding payment is likely going to get the current government convicted of discrimination. If not that, one of the earlier changes this year has got legal professionals scratching their heads since it is so clearly against the conventions.

This government is emberrassing beyond belief with their climatically and environmentally black smoke policy, significant foreign aid cuts, convention-breaking laws on immigration and significant cut in science funding.
While the previous government didn’t have any political ambitions, this government has many political ambitions, with most of them being illogical, heavily rushed, damaging to the reputation and the extreme austerity measures before we are out of the woods economically is pro-cyclic economic policy. I fear for the permanent consequences economically and reputationally of this government!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: How Very National Socialist of Denmark

The current proposal has a limit of about 500$ in cash or objects of the same value.
The police has been out critizising the “objects of higher than 500$ value” since they aren’t appraisers.

I’m picturing police with pliers ripping gold dental work out of people’s mouths.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Denmark has a serious muslim immigration problem. Like all other European countries that have accepted large numbers of muslim immigrants, crime has increased exponentially. Cases of rape have skyrocketed. Of course you’ll dismiss that as islamaphobia, but the facts speak for themselves. Or if you don’t believe the statistics, go to youtube and watch some of the news reports of women being attacked and gang raped by groups of young muslim men. Watch the interviews with muslims saying they want everyone converted to islam.

Anonymous Coward says:

Please understand before you call us nazis...

This cannot be compared to asset forfeiture and the media of the world have been more than willing to compare it to WW2 and nazis whenever they could.
First of all there is a very different system here. We have high taxes and thus we are able to receive benefits when times are tough from job loss or other circumstances.
The rules are that you cannot have valuables for more than $1500 to receive these benefits if you have not been a member of a special “unemployment insurance” for most of a year. If you or your spouse or partner that you share a residence with has more than this (including car, computer and other stuff), then you have to sell your stuff first before you can get this benefit.
Now what the suggestion is really about is that, yes some valuables could be confiscated, but NOT things of sentimental value (like wedding rings) and not minor cash amounts below $500. For this they will receive the benefits I spoke about before. The benefits amounts to $4221 pr month for a married couple over 30 with children.

Now, I disagree about how some politicians believe this should be collected by the border and by law enforcement and I disagree with the amount(though the rules are not totally clear on the amount or what is to be collected), I do not disagree with the fact that you must pay as you can before receiving free money.
If people understood this and the rules of what is to be collected, I hardly believe they could compare us to some of the worst people in history.

I did think that a site I respect, as much as I do TechDirt, would not fall for the bait like the rest though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Please understand before you call us nazis...

So just for understanding, if my partner and me lose our jobs we would have to sell our cars, computers, laptops and smartphones so our kids can keep their toys and cloths?
And we have to buy the same stuff back over the next months?
What do you do with the money you get from the sale which I guess would be more than those $1.5k?

That system seems a bit weird.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Please understand before you call us nazis...

There are several “necessities” in the law. A computer, phone, radio/tv are not calculated in general. Same goes for most toys and clothes.

You have to sell your car and house before you are eligible, though. The car is quite a problem for the mobility of the group and therefore their chance of getting a job. Particularly when the rent in the city force people to live in rural areas, but that bad circle is another discussion.

The system is not even close to perfect, but it has forced minimum wages up, increased equality and is more dynamic than food stamp.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Please understand before you call us nazis...

If you had worked over the last year and paid low premium unemployment insurance you would recieve 80% of your salary for up to two years (state pays the rest).
If you had no work and depended fully on society to subsist, then yes, you would be expected to realise any assets before recieving the benefits, rent subsidies, children bonus and so forth.
So if you own a house you would need to sell it (unless the mortgage is too high).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Please understand before you call us nazis...

Your things would not be confiscated and sold, but rather you would have to use your own money, either from your savings or your assets first. There are certain exclutions as someone explained below.
Most people are members of the unemployment insurance though, and that is not subject to those requirements.

However bad I might have explained myself in my post, it is a fact that in this case, Techdirt is just parroting the media who want to produce a scandal with grand headlines of nazi Germany conditions(that comparrison has been put forward many, many times, including the comments here).
IMO TD usually examines the subjects of their posts thoroughly (some would probably disagree), but this one missed the target.

David says:

I don't quite see the point

Over in Germany, subsistence depends on your personal possessions not exceeding an (age-dependent) limit. I doubt that Denmark will be much different.

The underlying constitutional paragraph for the provision of subsistence is “human dignity is inviolable”. This holds equally for fugitives. As long as they are able to sustain themselves for prolonged amounts of time, the right to subsistence rests.

The living conditions for fugitives in state-provided housings are not so fabulous that stinking-rich people would not avail themselves of any fortune they are carrying with them in a manner pointing to a discrepancy of their declared and actual means.

So the standard proceedings of the financial police should suffice for reining in subsistence abuse without requiring extra laws.

Anon says:

Not like the USA!

Please don’t compare Denmark to the US. I have lived in the US for 28 years after growing up in Asia. In that time, I have created assets of $10M. Never once did I face discrimination. I have now lived in Denmark for 6 months and am stuck here for another 6 and I will be ready to leave. The country is full of very nice people but they just want white, blond people here. They are happy to let the Royal family freeload off the taxes I am paying them but act so very nasty to incoming refugee.

The whackos who wrote this article seem to miss the point that DK’s Trump is the DPP leader and he is already the power behind the throne. Trump is a loser who has zero chance of becoming powerful.

Murika ReTardos says:

How about you take and pay refugees/expenses? No? Thought not, not with YOUR money...

Funny thing is it’s often people from the “land of the free” complaining when Denmark etc. wanna restrict immigration.

Have you taken how many refugees (mainly after social benefits using fake IDs etc.) now from middle-east? Could you remind us and tell the numbers?

Denmark has had plenty of it’s share for this year with it’s tens of thousands “refugee” seekers. just one week there were 10900, though most of them mainly wanted to go to Sweden, Norway and Finland due the better social benefits there now after cuts in Danish ones.

Anonymous Coward says:

Some perspective

First of all, this is a PROPOSAL and the chances of this making it into law are slim. Partly because most Danes are appalled at the prospect of being taken hostage to such degradation of people already at their rope’s end, partly because groups, such as the Police union, have stated that robbing the poor is not in their job description.
Secondly, the current Danish government is hell bent on dismantling the welfare system our forefathers fought a century to build up. They are using Muslims as scapegoats for all that’s wrong in the world, and, unfortunately, enough people believe them to allow them to cling to power with the narrowest of a majority. They cut unemployment subsidies while lowering tax on cars and offering the highest paid a nice tax break. They are the kinds of liberals that never got past the Freedom in Liberte, egalite, fraternite, and therefore think Freedom means not having to care for others than themselves.
Unfortunately, like most European countries, Denmark has an electoral system that offers the voters a choice of pre-selected professional bureaucrats, most of them inclined to just taking their cue from the EU, which is clearly not particularly democratic.

wise rabbit says:

the u.s. does (tries to do) something similar as well…but backwards. if you go take a look at many of the social security programs, participants are supposed to report their assets. in many cases, the services provided are based on the assets. so, for example, if i give my sister, who is disabled, a gift card that could be used as cash or for food, she is required to report that as income and her services (in this case, food stamps) are adjusted accordingly. they don’t take the asset, they adjust the service.

the viability of these systems not withstanding, of course…

Anonymous Coward says:


A few questions:

Why are refugees passing through to Sweden? One commenter has stated that a family of four gets 4200 usd in Denmark. In Sweden they would get room, board and 3 usd per day. That’s 360 usd for a family.

Where do the Danes think wealthy refugees would spend their money? Having foreigners coming to your country to spend money is supposedly a good thing.

Are social benefits for Danes really that much worse than in other nordic countries? The normal thing is that you have to spend any money on your bank account and other assets (like stock), but there is no requirement to sell off your belongings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Really?

The 4200 usd is social bennies excluding housing. Refugees would get about 900 usd and housing here. Housing ranges from expensive hotels to tents.

Danes are extremely nationalistic right now. EUs free flow of workers are pressuring/circumventing worker benefits and wages and increasing the social welfare costs. At the same time, there is a problem with second generation immigrants in Denmark massively outnumbering the native population in crime statistics. Coupled with most of the people not understanding how the systems for refugees/immigrants actually works, there is a massive somewhat misdirected frustration/hostility towards any foreigners.

No, social bennies are the same. There is a requirement to sell off expensive belongings, but the enforcement is very lax for anyone but gangs. That the law is enforced like that is problematic since it makes for a problematic attitude towards the law from people on social benefits, but that is another discussion.

Anonymous Coward (user link) says:

Missing Context!

Missing from this article is the entire context of Denmark’s recent history of immigrant behavior within their formerly welcoming country. That’s despicable journalism. Denmark gets slapped as bad guys when in fact the behavior of immigrants has created reactionary behavior from the citizenry that explains this horrible new law. Please let the Danes explain this situation rather than isolating a loony law as the face of the nation.–denmark-terror-attacks/23454941/

. . .

Diana H. (profile) says:

Journalism is a responsibilty!

I agree, I am aware of the immigration situation. I love it when people come over to my house for dinner and then start to complain about what I am making!

Get the entire story straight….Did this writer just get hired from the inquirer?

Of course……we could talk about the real reason! It’s that Bronze Mermaid……people just can handle it!

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