COPENHAGEN, Denmark – In a move to further tighten immigration laws, Denmark's integration minister said Wednesday she wants to review thousands of applications for naturalization from people who had been exempted from the mandatory Danish language test because of war-related traumas.
Integration Minister Inger Stoejberg, an immigration hardliner with the center-right Liberal government, said Danish citizenship is something that "one has to work for" and too many got it "via dispensation."
The one-party minority government has the backing, among others, of the populist Danish People's Party, which wants tougher citizenship requirements. Immigration officials told 255 people in May that tougher requirements might be applied retroactively should there be a new government after the June 18 elections.
This week, Stoejberg said 2,500 more applications of naturalization must be reviewed. Normally Parliament passes laws twice a year to give citizenship in votes considered a formality, and the next vote was scheduled in October.
The center-right bloc won parliamentary elections in June, negating a previous bill that said more than 3,300 people were to be naturalized as Danish citizens. In Denmark, law proposals are automatically annulled when there are elections.
The left-leaning opposition and human rights groups called Stoejberg's decision a violation of international conventions.
"The government's maneuver is nuts," said Pernille Skipper of the left-wing Unity List. "(These people) had been granted an exemption because they have a disability or post-traumatic stress" disorder.
On Tuesday, a new law entered into force lowering the social benefits of asylum-seekers in the Scandinavian country.
In 2014, 15,000 people sought asylum in Denmark, twice as many as in 2013. So far, 14,793 people have sought asylum during the first seven months of 2015.