Denmark’s government, led by Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, is currently locked in negotiations with parliamentary ally the Danish People’s Party (DF) in order to push through a new budget and tax cuts by the end of the year.
DF leader Dahl has asked for some of his party’s demands on immigration to be met as bargaining over the deal continues.
Rasmussen appeared on Thursday ready to change rules on family reunification, as well as on the return of asylum seekers granted so-called temporary residence (midlertidigt ophold in Danish).
Given that this type of temporary asylum is commonly granted for a three-year period, after which asylum seekers must reapply to remain in the country, rule changes would be likely to affect a large group of Syrian refugees who arrived in Denmark in 2015.
That group, which according to Rasmussen consists of 4,200 Syrians, will also be completely excluded from family reunification provisions should Dahl’s requirements be fully met.
Under current rules, refugees given asylum must wait three years before they are eligible for their families to join them in Denmark under the country’s reunification rules.
The demands made by the DF leader would represent a fundamental change in Denmark’s asylum policies.
“It is important for us to look at the right to family reunification that this group gets after three years.
“It is clear that if you are able to soon return to, for example, Aleppo in Syria, that’s where family reunification should happen,” Dahl told Ritzau.
“That’s where [refugees] should have help rebuilding their houses and making their future. Not by getting family reunification in Denmark,” he continued.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 405,420 displaced Syrians returned to Aleppo Governorate between January and July 2017, based on reports from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, and on-the-ground partners of those organisations.
The vast majority – 93 percent — of people returning to their homes in Syria had been displaced internally within the country, according to that report.
Refugees from Syria were given temporary asylum in Denmark in accordance with paragraph 7, part 3 of the country’s immigration law, which allows family reunification after three years have elapsed.
Denmark received asylum applications from over 21,000 people in 2015, the year in which the flow of refugees to Europe peaked — not least from civil war-ravaged Syria.
DF’s position is that allowing family reunification will make it more difficult to return asylum seekers once it is deemed safe for them to return to their home countries.
The party is therefore keen to block family reunification as part of the budget negotiations.
Any changes to family reunification rules would require legal assessment, according to Ritzau’s report on the negotiations.
Should Dahl’s demands be met, a clear signal would be sent to asylum seekers that their stay in Denmark will be temporary and without family, writes the news agency.
Dahl also wants the proposed changes to eventually apply to all asylum seekers – including those granted permanent asylum.
“The government is talking about a paradigm shift for people given protection under paragraph 7, part three. We will not reject that.
“This could be a crowbar to make fundamental changes for those given asylum under paragraph 7 parts one and two,” Dahl told Ritzau.