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Denmark: Admission of Quota Refugees Stopped, Additional Measures Taken to Limit Asylum Seekers

(Nov. 10, 2016) On August 30, 2016, the Danish Government announced a temporary halt of its acceptance of quota refugees. Although Denmark has continuously received quota refugees since 1972, this move comes as one of many recent measures intended to stem the number of immigrants into Denmark. Denmark has typically received approximately 500 quota refugees annually through the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) by establishing three-year quotas for acceptance of 1,500 refugees. The current quota has 491 slots available, slots that will now not be immediately filled following last year’s increase in asylum seekers. However, the quota slots are saved and may be used in later years. (GOVERNMENT OF DENMARK, ET STÆRKERE DENMARK – STYR PÅ FLYGTNINGESTRØMMEN [A STRONGER DENMARK – CONTROL OF THE REFUGEE FLOW] 7 (Aug. 2016), SMT.DK.)

Background

Denmark was overwhelmed by the number of refugees who sought asylum during the refugee crisis of 2015, in which Denmark saw the number of asylum seekers increase by approximately 45%, from 14,800 to 21,300 persons per year. The same month that the measure to halt the acceptance of quota refugees was announced, the Danish Ministry for Immigration, Integration, and Housing reported that August 2016 saw the fewest asylum seekers (284) in a single month since August 2011 (274), evidence, according to Minister Inger Støjberg, that the Danish measures currently in place are working. Støjberg maintains that further measures are nevertheless still needed to secure control over the situation. (Laveste antal asylansøgere på én måned i fem år, Udlændinge-, Integrations- og Boligministeriet [Ministry for Immigration, Integration and Housing] website (last updated Sept. 23, 2016).)

Other New Measures on Refugees

The move to put a hold on accepting quota refugees is only one of many new measures adopted or proposed by the Danish government. Others include the adoption of an “emergency brake” that would allow Denmark to dismiss asylum seekers arriving in Denmark from a safe country as defined in the Dublin Convention to be turned away at the border without any review of their asylum applications; an increase in the residency requirement to obtain a permanent residence permit from six years to eight and the requirement of an additional three years as a permanent resident before a person is eligible to apply for family reunification; and more stringent prior participation rules in order to earn social benefits. (6, 12, & 17; Convention Determining the State Responsible for Examining Applications for Asylum Lodged in One of the Member States of the European Communities – Dublin Convention, 1997 OJ (C 254) 1, EUR-LEX.)

In addition to the measures to limit asylum seekers coming to Denmark, the Danish government is also looking to give more government aid to the areas of origin of many of the asylum seekers, budgeting a total of DKK4.7 billion (about US$707 million) in humanitarian aid for 2016-2017. (ET STÆRKERE DENMARK – STYR PÅ FLYGTNINGESTRØMMEN, supra, at 7-8; for a summary of all the measures, see Regeringens nye udlændingeudspil, Ministry for Immigration, Integration and Housing website (Aug. 30, 2016).)

The Immigration, Integration and Housing Ministry has also recently announced that Denmark will review some 1,200 residence permits of Somali citizens to determine if their permits should either not be renewed or be revoked, because the relevant Danish agencies have reviewed the conditions in Somalia and come to the conclusion that mere residence in a certain area of Somalia is not enough to warrant protective status and a residence permit in Denmark. (Ca. 1.200 asylsager vedrørende flygtninge fra Somalia gennemgås med henblik på at vurdere, om opholdstilladelsen skal inddrages, Ministry for Immigration, Integration and Housing website (Sept. 16, 2016).)