Norwegian coalition politicians are calling for legislation changes amongst opposition allowing rejected asylum seekers’ children stay in Norway after a certain time.
The debate about what is best for the children has been ongoing since the government’s Ethiopian return deal enabling nationals to travel back voluntarily until 15th March before forced deportation.
Discussions are also ongoing with Eritrea, which tri-partite coalition Socialist Left (SV) politicians have recently asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to look at once again.
Amongst falling asylum seeker figures due to stricter immigration requirements, new rules giving children increased rights to be heard in immigration have recently come into force. However, there are fears the some 400 children without residency rights living in Norway’s asylum reception centres face an uncertain future.
Socialist Left immigration policy spokesperson Heikki Holmås MP tells The Foreigner refugee children who have been in Norway for three years should be allowed to say.
"We need to have a new policy in place for long-waiting refugee children before return to Ethiopia starts, as such. Their rights should be increased. Although the government says immigration law weighs heavier, it should be the attachment of the child to Norway that does instead.”
He also believes their parents should also earn the right to stay to look after them.
“It’s important to have an asylum system with quick processing that either allows these children to remain in Norway, or return them, preferably voluntarily. I believe it’s better to receive a negative application decision than allow people to live in limbo,” declares the MP.
Talking of children with parents who refuse to leave Norway, Party colleague Audun Lysbakken, Minister of Children, Equality, and Social Inclusion says to NRK, “more children should be allowed to stay in Norway. They should not be punished for what mistakes their parents might have made. We know that children's childhood is short. Years of uncertainty can be harmful to children. They need security and stability.”
The Directorate of Immigration (UDI) believes the tri-partite government’s immigration policy regarding those with small children is too restrictive, and would like four amended.
Officials would like more consideration of children in deportation cases; permanent residence permits to those with less verifiable identities should be issued more often; less stringent income demands in cases of immigrating dependants with a family, and fines instead of deportation in some cases.
Those living in Norway have to be able to document annual incomes of at least 232,400 to support incoming dependants. Unemployment benefit does not count, as it is temporary.
Over six months have passed since the UDI wrote to the Ministry of Justice regarding the matter. The first two suggestions have been refused, the others not answered, according to NRK.
The coalition's Labour (Ap) Deputy Minister of Justice, Pål Lønnseth, declares, “they have made some suggestions that would involve an extensive rule relaxation that we either have no basis for, or is unwise to do. Making these regulations less stringent would undermine respect for the Immigration Act, would have led to more people breaking the law, and lead to more people coming to Norway if every child was allowed to stay.”
Meanwhile, Labour Youth (AUF) members also want to give children’s connection to Norway greater weight than out of consideration for immigration policy.
“There are good arguments for and against, and this is currently under consideration,” concludes Deputy Minister Lønnseth.
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