On more proposed changes to Norwegian asylum and immigration policy

[05.04.2016 update: tracing the debate of the updated proposal can be found here.]

New innvandrings- og integreringsminister Sylvi Listhaug (Frp) put out a 150 page (! document available here) document outlining proposed changes to the Norwegian asylum and immigration policy today, including 40 major + minor changes to laws and regulations. Debate will is scheduled to conclude by 9 February, with proposals presented to Stortinget soon after.

The proposals include (via NRK) —

  • Tightens rules governing family reunification so that a person must have four years of work or education in Norway before family reunification can take place.
  • The government will issue payment cards to refugees instead of giving them cash. The aim is to prevent refugees sending money to family back home.
  • Asylum seekers arriving by transit visas across the border from Russia will not be able to get asylum.
  • Restricts visa freedom for asylum seekers. This means that asylum seekers are not entitled merits of his application for asylum in Norway, can be expelled from the border.
  • Creating a regulatory authority that gives right to grant temporary residence permits without taking a final decision on the need for protection. The temporary residence permit does not give the right to permanent residence, and does not provide a basis for family immigration.
  • It is proposed that the basis for permanent residence will lapse if the need for protection lapses within a period of five years.
  • The Government will reintroduce the distinction between people who are entitled to stay for the UN Refugee Convention, and those who are entitled to protection against return to their homeland after the human rights returning ban.
  • Unaccompanied minors seeking asylum to be given protection until the age of 18 years. It should then be re annual assessment, which determines whether an alien fulfills conditions for protection or stay in Norway on other grounds.
  • That an applicant shall be entitled to a permanent residence permit in Norway, the foreign national must sit the final examinations in Social Studies in a language he or she understands, as well as a final exam in Norwegian, indicating they master a minimum of spoken Norwegian.
  • Ministry wants to change Introduction Act so that people between 55 and 67 years of age must undergo training in Norwegian and social studies.
  • Permanent residence shall be refused if the applicant can not determine their own identity, or failure to obtain travel documents when it has prevented the return, or that the need for protection due to the applicants’ own actions after the applicant left the country of origin, and that the main purpose of these actions has been to obtain a residence permit.
  • The Government proposes that the appeal deadline is reduced from three weeks to one week in cases where the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) considers it obvious that an applicant does not meet the conditions for protection or protection against return.
  • The Government also proposes to make certain changes to the rules on legal aid in immigration cases, and proposes to remove the right to free legal advice in rejection cases under the Immigration Act.
  • It is proposed that the police should get store fingerprints of asylum seekers for 10 years.

Tracking public discussion:


On godhetstyranniet

Here’s a concept new to me: godhetstyranniet.

In an article published 3.11.2015 at NRK that discusses the (then, debated) proposals for the Norwegian government’s refugee budget (flyktningbudsjett), Silvi Listhaug responds to critics of a more restrictive set of policies —

Listhaug mener meningsmotstanderne framstiller ønsker om kutt og innstramminger som slemme og kalde, mens de som ønsker en mer liberal politikk er gode og rause.

– Jeg reagerer på dette godhetstyranniet som rir det norske samfunnet som en mare, sier hun.

(emphasis in original text)

On new positions

Today’s new regjeringen brings a new position: innvandrings- og integreringsminister. Via NRK,

Ny statsrådspost

Sylvi Listhaug (37) går inn som innvandrings- og integreringsminister, en ny post som blir liggende under justisdepartementet.

– Det kan bli store synergieffekter av å se de to tingene sammen. En ekstra statsrådsstilling på det området er ganske nødvendig med den flyktningsituasjonen vi ser i dag, sier Solberg.

(emphasis in original text)

Also via NRK,

– Vi skal gjøre en rekke endringer som Stortinget står bak. Jeg gleder meg til å gjennomføre denne politikken, og jeg skal gjøre mitt ytterste for å holde tilstrømningen nede. Jeg skal også sørge for at de som ikke har rett til opphold, sendes ut så raskt som mulig, sa Listhaug.

– Må bidra

Hun mener Norge står overfor store utfordringer, og minnet om at tilstrømmingen av flyktninger til landet har vært rekordstor i 2015.

– Det er viktig at nye borgere bidrar og ikke bare blir passive mottakere av ytelser. Vårt samfunn er ikke bærekraftig dersom vi får et samfunn hvor mange personer lever på offentlig overføringer, sa Listhaug.

Hun lover å kjempe for at færre kommer til landet.

– Jeg er forberedt på at det kan komme flere flyktninger til våren, og derfor er det viktig å gjennomføre innstramminger, sa statsråden.

(emphasis in original text)

Here is the current organizational chart of the Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet:

  • Statsråd, Justis- og beredskapsminister: Anders Anundsen (FrP)
    • Statssekretær: Vidar Brein-Karlsen (FrP)
    • Statssekretær: Gjermund Hagesæter (FrP)
  • Statsråd, Innvandrings- og integreringsminister: Sylvi Listhaug (FrP)
    • Statssekretær: Jøran Kallmyr (FrP)
    • Statssekretær: Marit Berger Røsland (H)
    • Statssekretær: Hanne Caroline Simonsen Iversen (FrP)

An interesting aside: the day before the announcement, there was a collective freak out in the Norwegian news that Frp’s Per Sandberg was going to be given a similar job. My question: why the diversion? (are such leaks common in the Norwegian press?) To make Listhaug look less … by comparison?

Edit: Listhaug’s appointment brought more media attention than initially  expected (with her name even trending on Twitter [in Norway]) —

On Memphis and REP

What is going on in the US right now is utterly frustrating to watch from abroad. Major love to Ruth, Cam, and the rest of the REP family in Memphis.

Via Kelli Cook at Local Memphis, TN lawmaker calls for round up of Syrian refugees —

Ruth Lomo fled the South Sudan and was brought to the United States from a Kenyan refugee camp.  She’s been in the United States since 2001.

“I was forced to flee my country because of war. I didn’t plan to leave. I was just fleeing for the safety of my children,” said Lomo.

Lomo was the inspiration for the Refugee Empowerment Program in Memphis. She fought to help people just like her from war-torn countries to get much needed resources as they transition into their new life in the Bluff City.

Mohamud Hilowle has been participating in R.E.P since he was in the 5th grade after his family gained refugee status from Somalia.

“Growing up, I used to come here like everyday after school. They make sure I did my work and made sure I was doing good,” said Hilowle.

While all refugees are accepted at this program, that may not be the case if  Republican Tennessee lawmaker Glen Casada gets his way.

“I am going to protect your family and mine by making statements that no terrorists get into the state,” said Casada of Williamson County.

Representative Casada said Wednesday during a press conference he not only wants the National Guard to round up recently settled Syrians in Tennessee and take them back to federal immigration officials, but he also wants the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to keep an eye on any refugee in the state.

(click through for video coverage + interviews @ REP)

On refugees after Paris, et al.




On Paris

Hoping for cool heads and warm hearts in the coming days.

From German Lopez at Vox

Although the perpetrators of the Paris attacks remain unknown, Jeff Duncan, a Republican congressman from South Carolina, took to Twitter to say that the tragedy shows Europe and America shouldn’t let in Syrian refugees because it might lead to more attacks.

@RepJeffDuncanHow’s that Syrian refugee resettlement look now? How about that mass migration into Europe? Terrorism is alive & well in the world.

As Dan Holloway tweeted earlier tonight, this assumption is misguided.

@RFCdan To people blaming refugees for attacks in Paris tonight. Do you not realise these are the people the refugees are trying to run away from..?

Again, we still don’t know who’s to blame for the Paris attacks — so we don’t know if a jihadist group was involved, or even what the motives were. But if a jihadist group is the culprit, these kinds of terrorist organizations are exactly the kind of danger that many Syrian refugees are fleeing from. It is ISIS, after all, that has terrorized Syria — and forced people to flee their home country to find refuge from the violence.

(links and emphasis in original; embedded Tweets didn’t copy as in original.)

See also: How to politicize a tragedy by Sam Kriss; The Paris attacks will make things even harder for Europe’s refugees by Cassie Werber; Opponents of Syrian Refugee Resettlement Seize on the Paris Attacks by David Francis and Siobhan O’Grady; the Islamic State’s trap for Europe by Harleen Gambhir; “You won’t read about this in the media, but…” by Martin Belam; on croquembouche via John Oliver.