Denmark: Marriage immigration drops

In the Netherlands, a new law forcing prospective immigrants to take integration exams in their home countries is credited for causing a significant drop in immigrants coming in for marriage. The current law also puts restrictions on the age and salary of the Dutch wanting to get married with an immigrant. In 2005, 2500 immigrants came a month, while in the past half year only 1384 people immigrated in order to get married (~230 a month). A drop of 90%. (Allochtonen Weblog, Dutch).

In Denmark, immigration for reasons of marriage is also dropping.

The minister of integration believes the law requiring Danes and their immigrant partners to be at least 24 years old to wed has been successful

A controversial law requiring Danes and their immigrant partners to be at least 24 years old to marry and legally live in Denmark has been successful, according to the minister of integration, Rikke Hvilshøj.

The law was implemented primarily to prevent 'forced' or 'arranged' marriages between Danish children of immigrant parents and foreigners. Such a pair could previously, along with the foreign spouse's family members, seek legal residence in Denmark.

'The immigration policy works exactly as it is intended. We've gotten a handle on immigration and broken the pattern where generations of young people primarily found their spouses abroad,' said Hvilshøj.

Figures presented by the Ministry of Integration indicated the number of marriages in Denmark between foreigners and immigrants or their descendants fell from 62.7 percent in 2001 to 37.9 in 2005.

Not everyone believed the law was having an effect on improving integration.

'There is a completely different tendency now amongst younger groups of immigrants and their children to instead look for a partner here in Denmark or in Europe,' said Zubair Butt Hussain, spokesperson for Muslims in Dialogue.

The law applies to anyone under the age of 24 - whether that person has an immigrant background or is an ethnic Dane. Hvilshøj acknowledged the law had caused problems for many people, but reiterated that easing the ban for specific ethnic groups was illegal.

Hvilshøj said she hoped the law could be repealed at some point in the future, but that for now it would remain in place and unchanged.

'I know perfectly well that some think they are unfairly affected by the rule, but it works and has been necessary these past years. But as long as we have the challenge of forced marriages and integration, there won't be any changes in the law,' she said.

In addition to the age requirement, foreign spouses must have at least DKK 55,000 for self-support, and the couple's connection to Denmark must be greater than to the foreign spouse's land in terms of total years and/or family members.

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)


Critics are saying that the new laws made no difference, since the Muslim community is still marrying within itself and still practices forced marriages. However, I think this is incorrect. There is no comparison between bringing in a bride/groom, who have grown up in a completely different culture and do not know the language, values and norms of the society they will now be living in, and marrying somebody who might be Muslim, but has grown up in Denmark.

While the prime minister claimed success in preventing forced marriages for immigrants, critics say not much has changed

Statistics might support Anders Fogh Rasmussen's claim that the '24-year' law, which requires Danish residents and their foreign partner to both be at least 24 years old to marry, has been successful in preventing forced marriages.

Critics, however, suggest that the prime minister look at other statistics - namely that non-ethnic Danes, primarily Muslims, simply find their spouses here and often under the same, restrictive conditions.

Ministry statistics show that the number of non-ethnic Danes marrying foreigners dropped from 62.7 percent in 2001 to 37.9 percent in 2005. However, the number of those who married other non-ethnic Danes rose from 17.3 percent to 29.1 percent over the same period.

Source: Copenhagen Post (English)

1 comment:

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