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Denmark approves harsh measures for asylum seekers

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Denmark has approved a proposal that will allow Danish police to take cash and personal belongings away from arriving asylum seekers.

According to the new law, anything exceeding 10,000 kroner (US $1453) in value is up for grabs, unless the item has sentimental value.

The policy has been described as a way to cover accommodation costs for asylum seekers who are waiting for their applications to be processed. And this isn’t the first time the country has tried to cut refugee costs. Denmark has already slashed the amount of benefits given to asylum seekers while they are staying in the country. (As a reminder, asylum seekers are not not permitted to work until they are formally granted refugee status.)

Additionally, the legislation will require officials to assess individuals based on their “integration potential” (i.e., language abilities, education, work experience, age, and motivation) when selecting candidates for refugee status.

Those who have been granted refugee status will also face challenges. Temporary residence permits will be valid for less time, and refugees will have to wait much longer before their families can join them in the country.

This final measure has been harshly criticized by the UN High Commission for Refugees. According to the agency, “family unity is a fundamental and important human right contained in a number of international and regional instruments to which Denmark is a State party.”

Denmark’s attempt to deter asylum seekers from entering the country is disappointing to say the least. Denmark was once known for both giving a large percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP) to foreign aid and providing sanctuary to those in need of international protection.

Now, the wealthy nation is just another example of Europe's souring attitude toward the men, women, and children who are fleeing violence in Syria.

Asylum seekers and refugees have faced unfathomable adversity. They have lost their loved ones, their homes, most of their possessions, and even their sense of identity.

As they arrive on the doorstep of prosperous nations, they should be met with compassion, respect, and unending support. Instead, they are being frisked by police and stripped of their basic human rights.

It goes without saying that accommodating thousands (and in some cases, millions) of desperate individuals is no small featbut turning a cold shoulder on the people who need help the most is surely not the answer.