“They are unwanted in Denmark, and they will feel that.”
In an ongoing push to deter immigration, Denmark announced last week that “unwanted” migrants will be ferried to an inhospitable island in the Baltic sea which currently houses a research center for contagious diseases.
An agreement reached on Friday between the center-right government and immigration hawks in parliament committed to relocating up to 100 immigrants with criminal convictions who, for various reasons including Danish law, cannot be deported back to their home country, The New York Times reported Monday. The approved budget allocates $115 million to the construction of detention facilities on Lindholm Island, where the rejected migrants and asylum seekers will be required to sleep.
According to The Times, the name of the ferry that will transfer undesirables to the island is “Virus.”
In praising the decision, Denmark’s Immigration Minister Inger Stojberg struck a belligerent tone, writing on Facebook that the would-be isolated migrants “are unwanted in Denmark, and they will feel that.”
Rather than serving an end in itself, the relocation plan hopes to encourage asylum seekers to self-deport (former Immigration Minister Birthe Ronn Hornbech straight out dismissed it as a farce, writing in a column that “nothing will come of this proposal”.)
This is part of Denmark’s broader crackdown on immigration from the Middle East and North Africa, the precipitous rise of which in the past decade (culminating in 2015, which saw on average 3,000 new asylum applications a month) has turned even some on the country’s far-left into immigration skeptics.
Fearing that the rise in immigration could fracture Denmark’s national cohesion and burden its robust social welfare programs, the Danish Social Democrats, a far-left opposition party, amended its platform last year to include demands for stringent immigration control measures and an avowal of cultural assimilation as a condition for naturalization.
Mattias Tesfaye, the party’s spokesperson the son of an Ethiopian immigrant himself, told Politico in September that “the government has been soft” on immigration, and that his party has encouraged it to take more “draconian” steps.
For American liberals observing from afar, these developments might cause some confusion. US progressives often hold Denmark as the utopian model for social-democracy. But whereas in United States the left increasingly tends towards internationalism — along with the occasional flirtation with open borders — in Denmark the trend is reverse. In addition to setting new challenges for admitting newcomers, the country has also pursued cultural laws, like a burqa ban that went into effect in August, to precipitate the integration of migrants.
The Scandinavian social model of cautious redistribution of wealth relies on a coherent policy of economic priorities (personal wellbeing over economic growth) and on a shared sense of national solidarity, both of which are likely to be undermined by open borders. These are contradictions with which the American left will eventually have to come to terms, too.