Denmark Begins Charging Asylum-Seekers for Living Expenses

New York, UNITED STATES:  Several hundred Muslims from the New York City area hold a protest in front on the Danish Consulate 17 February 2006 against the publication of cartoons depicting Islamic Prophet Muhammad that appeared in newspapers in Denmark. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed concern earlier this week that Muslim outrage over the cartooons could "spin out of control," particularly if fueled by countries like Iran and Syria.  AFP PHOTO/Timothy A. CLARY  (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Danish authorities have begun applying a law allowing the confiscation of goods from migrants applying for asylum status, seizing almost $12,000 from five Iranians arrested this week at Copenhagen Airport. According to the law, police are authorized to requisition from migrants all nonessential goods worth over 10 thousand Danish crowns ($1,500). The seized money is to be used to defray the costs of migrants living in the country (food and lodging) while they wait for their asylum application to be processed. The law permitting the confiscation of money and valuables from asylum-seekers was approved by the Danish Parliament in January, and entered into force in February. This week’s seizure of 79,600 crowns ($11,875) from five Iranian asylum seekers is the first time the law has been applied. The group, composed of three men and two women, were arrested by police for possession of “fake passports,” the police said in a statement. The stated aim behind the law, besides covering immigrants’ expenses, is to reduce the influx of migrants, and the measure has been criticized by human rights groups such as Amnesty International. Similar practices are already in vigor in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Switzerland. Danish Immigration and Integration Minister Inger Stojberg