Refugees and immigrants at a 'welcome party' earlier this month. Photo: Uffe Weng/Scanpix
The 284 people who were registered last month marks the lowest monthly asylum figure in five years. According to Integration Minister Inger Støjberg, the figures are proof that Denmark’s immigration restrictions and border controls have had their desired effect.
“Our own restrictions have, together with the efforts of other European countries and our joint initiatives in the EU, decreased the asylum pressure in Denmark,” Støjberg said in a press release.
Through the first eight months of 2016, roughly 5,000 people have sought asylum in Denmark. This is down significantly from the roughly 21,300 asylum seekers in 2015 and is on pace to end well below the 14,800 asylum seekers who came in 2014.
The plummeting numbers have led Denmark to close the refugee tent camps that were established in November 2015.
Støjberg said that despite the decrease, “we want the figure to go down further”.
“We need to be ready to handle a new acute situation if holes arise once again in Europe’s borders and that’s why we have recently presented an immigration proposal with 44 initiatives,” Støjberg said.
Among the initiatives in Støjberg’s plan are calls for an “emergency brake” that can be initiated to reject asylum seekers at the border under “a crisis situation”, tougher requirements for refugees to qualify for the controversial 'integration benefit' introduced last year and a series of changes meant to make it harder for foreigners living in Denmark to obtain a permanent residence permit.
Denmark has also announced plans to take “a break” from accepting around 500 refugees per year through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Resettlement Program. The plan to stop accepting the so-called ‘quota refugees’ has not yet been approved but has the support of the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party as well as the Social Democrats, parliament’s largest opposition party.