In the general opinion, laws are there to protect people from the government but also from each other. But sometimes laws can hurt more than they help. This is the case for the so called “refugee laws” or “jewellery act” recently adopted by the Danish parliament. Its content has been highly criticized, the Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei for instance has decided to take back the creations that were displayed in Denmark. Nevertheless it was accepted by the Danish parliament on January 26. But what is the exact content of that law and what might be its consequence?
First of all the law says that refugees have to wait 3 years until they can ask to be reunited with family members that were left behind in their home country or refugee camps. They also have to pay for this reunification. The journey to Europe can be long and dangerous and therefore some people prefer to make the journey alone and to have their family come later, trough safer ways. This new law now makes this strategy harder. 3years in a war country is awfully long and extremely dangerous. So now those people have to choose between exposing their loved ones to death in their home country and to death on the journey to Europe. Needless to say that this choice is extremely cruel and inhuman.
But the most revolting measure taken by the law, is the seizing of asylum seeker’s values. If the worth of what they carry exceeds 10.000 kroners in cash (1.326€, 1.450$ or 1.008£) the Danish authorities can confiscate the money as well as material possessions like jewellery, to pay for their stay in the country. “We think that it is fair and reasonable that those asylum seekers who do bring enough assets with them should cover the costs of their food and lodging during the asylum process,” said Ingrid Stojberg, the Danish immigration minister. After being criticised a lot, it was decided that this does not apply for sentimental objects like wedding rings. Nevertheless government who tries to make money off the back of refugees should be ashamed of itself. Although it is clear that only a few refugees will fall under that much money because their journey is expensive, that makes it even harder on those who managed to do so despite the circumstances. The refugees now have to rely on the Danish government to take care of them and give them money and shelter as they can’t do it on their own anymore. Many people’s argument against refugees is that “they just come here to take advantage of our country and get fed with taxpayer’s money”. Well, now in Denmark the refugees have no other choice than to do so.
Of course these measures have been taken to make Denmark less appealing for refugees. Denmark, like many other countries, tries to take as little asylum seekers as possible and shifts that burden on other countries, which are often a lot less wealthy than Denmark. Denmark has only taken 2% of all asylum takers in 2015. But the refugees are leaving countries at war and a certain death. Even if the journey to Europe is dangerous, they are willing to make it because they have nothing to lose. Nothing can break the determination of such a person, neither oceans, nor walls and especially not laws. Those don’t make it harder for them to come but only make it harder to integrate. Why wouldn’t a government want people to integrate, to become an active part in their community? Some of those refugees are people who have studied and they could be valuable assets for our societies. Especially because Denmark is one of the richest countries in Europe, it would not suffer from refugees but rather benefit from integrating them. This means that those laws are not only inhuman, but they are also useless, as they will not reach the intended goal. The Danish government has probably made a huge mistake and will possibly regret it sooner or later.