November 7, 2005

Tough rules slash asylum in Denmark

Hvedstrup’s woes are a side effect of rules dating from 2002. The rules are also part of a concerted government effort to reduce the number of Turks and other members of Denmark’s 500,000-strong ethnic minorities who take husbands and wives from their country of origin, often in marriages forced on them by their parents.

“The largest beneficiaries of our ‘24-year-old rule’ are young Muslim girls,” said Rikke Hvilshoj, who became immigration minister after Fogh Rasmussen’s government was re-elected in February. “Arranged and forced marriages are a problem. This rule means we can make sure that the young have time to get an education.”

Conditions have been made harder for asylum seekers too. Benefits have been cut to levels 15%-20% below those paid to Danes, while many of those given the right to stay do not obtain permanent residence until they have waited for seven years. They can be deported in the meantime if the situation in their homeland is deemed to have improved.

The Danish example is already being followed in Holland, another once-liberal country where politics have been dominated by asylum, immigration and integration since the murder of Pim Fortuyn, the populist anti-immigration politician, in 2002.

The Dutch government tightened the rules on immigration last November, introducing a “21-year-old” rule on marriages. Despite signs of a growing liberal backlash, it is also pushing ahead with the gradual expulsion of 26,000 asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected.

Britain’s Home Office — concerned about forced marriages among some British Asians — has said it is also studying suggestions that both partners in marriages involving someone from outside the EU should be over 21.,,2089-1562672,00.html

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