Posted on June 24, 2008

18,000 Illegal Aliens, But Missionary Faces Deportation

Aftenposten (Oslo), June 24, 2008

A new report from state statistics bureau SSB estimates that the number of undocumented immigrants in Norway is twice that previously thought. Meanwhile, an 80-year-old American immigrant is being told to leave the country.

Politicians from two of Norway’s conservative parties, the Progress Party and the Christian Democrats, are protesting the pending deportation of Douglas McQueen.

The Progress Party usually takes a hard line against immigration, but thinks an official order that McQueen leave the country by July 15 is both punitive and inhumane.

“Here we have a person who has behaved well, and we reward that by throwing him out of the country,” said Jan Arild Ellingsen of the Progress Party. “McQueen has become a victim, while people who are here illegally for a very long time get to stay. That, to me, is completely unreasonable.”

McQueen left the US more than 50 years ago, to do missionary work overseas. He’s been based in Norway for several years, but now an immigration appeals board has turned down his attempt to become a permanent resident.

“It was a surprising message to get,” McQueen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “It’s getting tougher and tougher every day.”

Several Norwegian church groups refuse to accept McQueen’s deportation order. Bishop Tor B Jørgensen thinks the authorities don’t understand a missionary’s lifestyle.

Jan Sahl of the Christian Democrats plans to bring the case up in Parliament when it reconvenes in the fall. “I’m assuming he won’t be deported on July 15,” Sahl said.

A group that helps immigrants and refugees in Norway, SEIF, has estimated there are between 5,000 and 10,000 illegal aliens in Norway, living a life in hiding. Some experts are skeptical of SSB’s estimate of 18,000, not least because it’s hard to document undocumented persons.

Immigration agency UDI is financing two projects aimed at learning more about the status of illegal aliens in the country.