The Danish parliament is set to pass measures on Tuesday to deter refugees from seeking asylum, including confiscating valuables to pay for their stay, despite protests from international human rights organizations.
The measures, which also include delaying family reunification to three years, are the latest sign that the Nordic welcome for refugees is waning as large numbers flee war in Africa and Middle East in what is becoming Europe’s biggest migrant crisis in decades.
The “jewelry bill” is the latest attempt by Denmark’s seven-month-old minority center-right government to curb immigration to a country that took in a record 20,000 refugees last year.
Under the bill, refugees could keep possessions amounting to 10,000 Danish crowns ($1,450), raised from 3,000 crowns after criticism from human rights organizations. Valuables of special emotional value such as wedding rings will be exempt.
The Liberals government has just 34 out of 179 seats in parliament and depends on support of rightist parties, including the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DF), to pass laws.
The bill is likely to pass with most lawmakers from the main center-left opposition party Social Democrats expected to vote for, as Denmark’s political landscape shifts to the right thanks to DF’s popularity and rising concern over refugee numbers.
A poll showing 70 percent of voters see it as the most important issue, according to the daily paper Berlingske.
“I wouldn’t say that I have become racist or anything,” said Poul Madsen, a taxi driver, before the bill was passed. “But I may be more aware of the fact that this has some downsides and may be a potential problem for our society and our economy.”