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I have tried so hard to become one of the people, but the government's sneaky ways of edging foreigners like me out could one day put me over the edge, writes Stephanie Bergeron Kinch
Rarely do I post negative things about Denmark and even more rarely do I post about Danish politics, but with new immigration laws that will affect myself, my friends, and future expatriates, this has become personal.
Denmark is a country that has been revered around the world for a social welfare system that can be unmatched. Documentary makers, news shows, and even Oprah [American TV host…ed.] have come to this country to tout its free healthcare, generous maternity leave benefits, and an excellent unemployment system. Danish people pride themselves in thinking of everyone as an equal regardless of how much money they have or what they do for a living. It is a society and system that I strongly believe in and one that has impressed me in the 16 months I have lived here. It is, as some Americans would call it ‘a socialist paradise.’
Unfortunately, the Danish happiness and security so widely publicized has one catch: you can only have access to it if you are a purebred Dane. Foreigners coming into this country, even those married to Danes like myself, are not entitled to unemployment money or student allowance. They can’t exchange drivers’ licenses and, at least in the eyes of the current government, foreigners are not equals to Danes.
Last week, Denmark’s most conservative minority party, Danske Folkeparti, pushed the government to create laws governing Family Reunification Visas or those that apply to foreign spouses and children of Danish citizens.
The laws now state that in order to be allowed to stay in Denmark on these visas one must take a 70-question oral and written exam in Danish about Danish culture, history, and values. Thirty-minutes are allowed for this test and 40 questions must be answered correctly. Moreover, immigrants must have work experience and be educated. In other words, if you are poor or have had a hard life they don’t want you here.
In effect, these laws will serve to keep out not only the lazy folks looking to mooch off the system but all other foreigners as well. Danish is a difficult language to learn even for people who already live in the country, to have to learn it on your own in your home country is nearly impossible. The test will serve as a roadblock for many who are even thinking of coming to Denmark and will effectively push away the little diversity this country has.
I have put my faith and my heart into the Danish system since I moved here. I have made every effort to learn the language, abide by the cultural norms, get an education, and find employment. I have touted Danish values to my relatives when I returned to the States for vacation. I believed in Denmark, but Denmark never believed in me.
I find it difficult to see how I will be able to raise my daughter in a country whose government believes that foreigners, like her own mother, are a nuisance to society. I do not know how I can teach her about the values of diversity and the importance of multiculturalism in a country that uses tricks to bypass EU rules and keep anyone who isn’t 100% Danish out. Denmark has hurt and betrayed me.
I still love Denmark. I love the laid-back attitudes of the Danish people, the collectiveness of society, and the commitment to environmental policies that will make the world a better place. But it is increasingly difficult to live under a government that ostracizes me and people like me. I have tried so hard to become one of the people, but the government’s sneaky ways of edging foreigners like me out could one day put me over the edge.
Read article ‘No access for ‘loser’ universities’ here.
Have you been affected by the restrictive family reunification rules? Send a mail to email@example.com and explain how.