Denmark: Punitive Citizenship Law denies thousands of children born in Denmark the right to a national passport

Confused Minister Tesfaye, himself being a son of an immigrant from Ethiopia
He Claimed that he understands the frustration, while he is the man in charge of the immigration and integration ministry.

“If you were born and raised in Denmark and are active in society, then I also think that you should become a Danish citizen.” He said.

But in 2021, he and his party the Socialdemokratiet vehemently opposed a proposal bill by Radikale that would have made it easier for young people born and raised in Denmark to become citizens.

“We previously had more lenient rules where people who did not speak Danish got citizenship. It’s good we have tightened the rules. I will only encourage people to apply if they feel like Danish citizens. Several thousand are accepted every year, and I’m happy about that,” said Tesfaye.

A Divided house

Parliament is split on whether the rules are too tight or too loose.

An increasing number of people in Denmark have a so-called ‘Alien’s Passport’ recognizing them as “stateless” because they can neither get a Danish passport, nor are eligible for a foreign one, reports DR.

While this is the case for many refugees and their reunified family members, tight Danish legislation means their children, born in Denmark, are too.

Arguments of those opposed to these rights (right)
Dansk Folkeparti asserts that the rising number of Alien’s Passports is the result of an immigration policy that is too relaxed.

“They are foreigners if their parents have not taken root in Denmark and do not have a right to be here. Denmark is not their home and cannot be. They have to go home to the country where their parents are from, even if they aren’t familiar with it,” contends DF spokesperson Marie Krarup.

Ny Borgerlige wants refugees and their children sent home faster and citizen rules tightened even more. “If people don’t live up to the requirements, it’s fine if they have a foreign passport for years,” according to spokesperson Mette Thiesen.

“I don’t see what the problem is. You can have a good life in Denmark without being a Danish citizen. Denmark throws around far too much citizenship. It should be for the very, very few,” she added.

Arguments of those in Support on these rights ( left)
However, Radikale and Enhedslisten agree it has become too difficult to achieve citizenship.

“It’s a democratic disgrace that we have a growing number of citizens who have legal and permanent residence, but not full rights,” contended Enhedslisten’s Peder Hvelplund.

“Alien’s Passports are an eternal reminder that you are not a full member of society.”

Denied justice

As the popular saying goes, justice delayed is justice denied. This is because the current citizenship process takes several years. Many young people can expect to wait until their late 20s to become Danish citizens, according to Kristian Kriegbaum Jensen, a professor specializing in politics and administration at Aalborg University.

“One of the rules is that young people must have worked full-time for three and a half years out of four to even be able to apply for citizenship – which is next to impossible while studying,” he explained.

On average, a citizenship application took 16 months in 2020. Applicants need to pass a written test and be approved via a constitutional ceremony in their municipality.

Still, according to many right-wing voices in Parliament, it’s too lenient.

“We wanted the rules tightened even more, and a limit imposed on how many non-European and Nordic citizens can get a Danish passport every year,” said Marcus Knuth of Konservative, who encourages young people with Alien’s Passports to be grateful and to “stop complaining”.

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