Illegal Migration: Iceland is Drastically Tightening Its Countermeasures

The Icelandic government and authorities appear determined to limit immigration to the small country of just 372,000 people

Iceland’s parliament is cracking down on illegal immigration with a new law that bans asylum seekers from access to housing, medical care, and social services 30 days after their application has been rejected.

The law passed despite protests from “human rights” organizations, including Amnesty International, UNICEF, and the Red Cross.

Justice Minister Jón Gunnarsson said the law was necessary to ensure that Iceland’s immigration legislation aligns with neighboring countries’ regulations to accommodate an uncontrolled number of refugees. He said:

“For several years there have been repeated attempts to change the immigration law. The situation has changed a lot during this time and today we face an unprecedented problem when it comes to receiving all those who come to us as refugees and seek protection. It is therefore clear to me that we need to consider further steps in order to approximate the regulations in our neighboring countries, so that we do not end up with a number that goes far beyond what applies in those countries.”

The three-party ruling coalition unanimously backed the law, but other parties, including the People’s Party and a deputy MP from the Center Party, also joined the vote. A Socialist Alliance amendment on unaccompanied children was accepted, while 20 other Pirate Party amendments were rejected.

“This issue confirms the stance I have long held, which is that this government is anti-refugee,” said Pirate Party MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir. “This is meant to send a message; it’s meant to send the message that people need to leave the country or else they will be left out on the streets with no support and no access to minimal services.”

The Icelandic government and authorities appear determined to limit immigration to the small country of just 372,000 people. Like the rest of the West, Iceland was an extraordinarily homogeneous and peaceful country until the 1990s, when mass immigration began—with the influx of foreigners, crime and the emergence of organized crime also increased. And like in other Western countries, the role of migrants in violent crime tends to be treated as taboo.

Amy Mek

Investigative Journalist



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