Copenhagen Post, May 16, 2011
The time for rigidly even-handed immigration policies that put people from developed countries on the same footing as people from undeveloped countries is over, says immigration minister Søren Pind.
Pind has announced that he plans to give immigrants who are more likely to earn money and contribute to society exemptions from some of the strictest requirements under family-reunification law, reports Politiken newspaper.
“It’s a colossal problem that the immigration law is so full of politically correct wording that we end up hurting people who are willing and able to come to Denmark and don’t require anything from the state,” Pind said. “The rules have been packed with legalese and misunderstood pc’ism in the name of equality.”
The Netherlands and Germany are among the EU countries where preferential immigration rules have been introduced for nationals from developed countries. Pind suggested that Denmark should adopt their mode of exempting immigrants from developed countries, like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, from having to pass exams in language proficiency and cultural knowledge.
But the immigration minister said that was just a beginning of the changes he wants to make.
“It marks a break with the policies we have had since 2001. How widespread it will be will depend on the legal battle, but in any case, Pandora’s box is now open. I am going to put all my efforts into these changes,” Pind said.
Pind is also proposing changes to the controversial ‘points system’ for family reunification, under which foreigners seeking to immigrate to Denmark to live with a family member score ‘points’ for having degrees from prestigious universities and for demonstrating ‘active citizenship’ through participation in Danish social, business or interest organisations.
To qualify for the exemptions, according to the immigration minister’s new proposal, the foreigner’s home country must: be a member of the OECD; be placed at the top of the UN’s Human Development Index; and its citizens must be allowed to travel to Europe without a visa.
The Danish People’s Party (DF), which was influential in establishing the current points system and the stricter immigration rules in place since 2001, is apparently open to changing the laws.
“It’s an excellent idea. The problems we have are not because of Americans,” said DF co-chairman Peter Skaarup. “We are already in process of modernising the immigration law.”
While the opposition has also called for revising immigration laws, it called the immigration minister’s proposal “a botch job”.
“He is acknowledging with his proposal that the requirements in place today are too strict,” said the Social Liberal immigration spokesperson, MP Marianne Jelved.
MP Henrik Dam Kristensen, immigration spokesperson for the Social Democrats, added that the proposal was misguided.
“The government and DF are saying you can come here easily with a good education and a lot of money,” Kristensen said. “But the issue is really who Danish citizens can fall in love with. Now it’s going to be better to fall in love with an American than a Brazilian.”
Lars Hyhnau Hansen, spokesman for the family-reunification advocacy group Marriage Without Borders (Ægteskab uden grænser) called Pind’s proposal “nonsense and rubbish”.
“Employment among Turkish, Filipino and Thai immigrants is not particularly low–it’s maybe just a couple percent points lower than among American immigrants,” Hansen added.