Denmark announces new expulsion centre for foreigners with deportation sentences

The Danish government on Wednesday announced plans for a new facility known as a departure or expulsion centre to accommodate foreign nationals with criminal records who are awaiting deportation.

Denmark announces new expulsion centre for foreigners with deportation sentences
Immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye presents the government's planned new departure centre at Holmegaard on the island of Langeland. Photo: Martin Sylvest/Ritzau Scanpix

A new expulsion centre on the island of Langeland will be used to house people with so-called ‘tolerated stay’ (tålt ophold) status, who do not have permission to reside in Denmark but cannot be deported, and foreign nationals with criminal records whose sentences include deportation.

Plans for the facility were confirmed in a Ministry of Immigration and Integration statement.

The buildings which will be used for the centre on Langeland formerly functioned as an asylum centre and will be called ‘Udrejsecenter Holmegaard’ (Departure Centre Holmegaard).

According to the ministry, the new expulsion centre will be able to house around 130 people and it is expected to be fully operational in the second quarter of 2022. 

A so-called udrejsecenter (departure or expulsion centre) can house rejected asylum seekers or others with no legal right to stay but who have not yet left Danish territory, for example due to being stateless or because no readmission arrangement exists between Denmark and their home country.

Others do not agree with the outcome of their asylum application or are unable to be voluntarily returned to their home countries due to the danger they believe that will place them under.

They also accommodate foreign nationals with criminal records whose sentences include deportation.

Expulsion centres are a relatively new type of facility in Denmark. The first centre was established in 2013 at Sjælsmark after the EU passed the Returns Directive in 2008. A second expulsion centre was established at Kærshovedgård in 2016 after an “asylum package” was approved by the government in 2015.

The government said the new expulsion centre will help alleviate feelings of insecurity experienced by neighbours of the departure centre at Kærshovedgård near Central Jutland. 


The government has been criticised by conservative parties over delays in announcing a location for a new departure centre.

After the Social Democratic government gained the parliamentary majority with allied left-wing parties in the 2019 general election, it pledged to find a new expulsion centre to replace scrapped plans to open one on the uninhabited island of Lindholm.

Immigration minister Matthias Tesfaye said he is pleased by the news. 

“The Social Democrats promised before the election that we would establish a new departure centre for foreigners who have been sentenced to deportation. Foreigners with criminal records sentenced to deportation must be moved away from Kærshovedgård. We are now fulfilling that promise,” Tesfaye said in the statement.

“The local community (near Kærshovedgård) has been affected for a long time and I am happy that we can now relieve them,” he added.

According to the government, it will be much cheaper to establish a centre at Holmegaard instead of Lindholm.

Costs at the centre on Lindholm would have been over one million kroner per resident yearly, more than twice as much as it will cost to have the centre at Holmegaard, the government said in the statement.

Additionally, the Holmegaard location can be turned into an expulsion centre at a cost of approximately 13.5 million kroner, while 210 million kroner was set aside for Lindholm.

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Denmark scraps plan for Langeland expulsion centre

The government late on Tuesday announced it will not go ahead with plans to open a so-called departure or expulsion centre on Langeland, in the face of fierce opposition in parliament and from the island's local community.

Denmark scraps plan for Langeland expulsion centre
Langelændere (people from Langeland) demonstrate on Tuesday against the now-scrapped plans for a departure centre on their island. Photo: Philip Davali/Ritzau Scanpix

Proposed last week, the centre would have housed people with ‘tolerated stay’ (tålt ophold) status, who do not have permission to reside in Denmark but cannot be deported by force. The planned facility was for around 130 accommodate foreign nationals with criminal records who have served their sentences but are awaiting deportation.

The persons who would have been moved to the centre will therefore remain for the time being at a similar facility at Kærshovedgård in Jutland. That centre also houses people who have not committed crimes but have no legal right to stay in Denmark, for example due to a rejected asylum claim.


Opposition parties opposed the Langeland plan following its announcement last week, calling for the centre to be located more remotely. Langeland residents also resisted it, both during a visit to the island last week by immigration minister Mattias Tesfaye and in a demonstration at the Christiansborg parliament on Tuesday.

The centre-left Socialist People’s Party (SF), which is the party of Langeland’s mayor, also said it would block the plan, leaving the minority government without the parliamentary majority needed to push it through.

“It is very obvious that there’s a majority in parliament which is against the establishment of a new departure centre on Langeland,” Tesfaye told broadcaster DR on Tuesday evening.

“That’s a shame in my view, but I have also said from the start that I cannot not conjure up (the centre) against a majority in parliament, after all,” he added.

Cancellation of the plan means that the “status quo” of existing expulsion centres will continue, the minister confirmed.

As such the 130 persons who would have been moved to Langeland will now remain at the Kærshovedgård centre.

In a statement, Tesfaye said that he would welcome suggestions from the other parties for alternative locations.

“You have to say that the situation has changed. We are now in a situation in which parliament wants influence (over the issue),” he told DR.

“If you take control over an issue, you also take responsibility,” he added.

Since winning the election in 2019, the Social Democratic government has generally worked with right-wing parties to pass laws related to immigration, rather than its established allies on the left, the so-called ‘red bloc’.