New Danish Government Tightens Immigration Law

COPENHAGEN, Denmark Jul 1, 2015, 7:46 AM ET
By JAN M. OLSEN Associated Press

Denmark's new center-right minority government on Wednesday reached its first deal with its political allies, including the anti-immigrant Danish People's Party, aimed at reducing the number of asylum-seekers by lowering social benefits.

Immigration minister Inger Stoejberg said "the effect is hopefully" fewer asylum-seekers, calling it "a very clear goal" for the new government which took office Sunday.

Last year, 15,000 people sought asylum in Denmark, twice as many as in 2013.

Stoejberg said Wednesday that a single person would get nearly 6,000 kroner ($900) a month instead of 10,850 kroner ($1,625), while a couple over the age of 30 with children would get 16,640 ($2,500) against 28,800 kroner ($4,315).

A monthly bonus of 1,500 kroner ($225) would be given to immigrants who can pass a Danish language test "meaning you can be on the labor market and you can start getting an education,"

Stoejberg said. More tightening was expected, she added.

The government and its allies want more foreigners to better integrate the Danish society instead of living off social benefits.

Official statistics show first- and second-generation immigrants represent 12 percent of Denmark's 5.6 million inhabitants and 16 percent of the 1 million people receiving some kind of government benefits, including student grants and parental leave.

The proposal must go through parliament. The government has a majority and if passed, the new measure would take effect Sept. 1.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen discussed another of the government's election campaign promises with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin: creating controls at the border with Germany in order to stop illegal immigration and smuggling.

Jensen said the government was still working on the plans but stressed it would not violate Europe's border-free Schengen zone and would be made in agreement with the European Union.