Iceland’s parliament is cracking down on immigration with new legislation that strips asylum seekers of housing and healthcare, along with other rights, 30 days after their application is rejected.
The country’s parliament passed the legislation despite protests from human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, which is funded by billionaire oligarch George Soros, and other organizations like the Red Cross and UNICEF, according to Icelandic news site RÚV.
At the start of the successful vote, Justice Minister Jón Gunnarsson stated:
“There have been repeated attempts here for several years to make changes to the immigration law. The situation has changed a lot during this time, and today we are faced with an unprecedented problem when it comes to receiving everyone who comes to us as refugees and seeking protection. Therefore, in my mind, it is quite clear that we need to consider further steps to bring us closer to the regulations that apply in our neighboring countries so that we are not getting a number that far exceeds what is in these countries.”
The government unanimously backed the bill, with 38 votes against 15, with all the MPs from the three-party government coalition voting for it. However, others parties also joined the vote, including the People’s Party and a deputy MP from the Center Party. One amendment regarding unaccompanied children from the Social-Democratic Alliance was approved, but 20 others from the Pirate Party were rejected.
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“This issue confirms the stance I’ve held for a long time, which is that this government is hostile to refugees,” said Pirate Party MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir. “This is supposed to send a message, it’s supposed to send the message that people need to leave the country, otherwise they will be put on the street, without support and without access to minimum services.”
Iceland’s government and authorities appear to be committed to cracking down on immigration to the small country, which has a population of only 372,000. As with the rest of the West, Iceland was an extremely homogenous and peaceful country up until the 1990s, when mass immigration began. In turn, crime has risen, along with the appearance of organized crime, due to an influx of foreigners. And like other Western countries, such as Sweden, the role of foreigners in violent crime is treated as taboo and discouraged. For example, one Iceland article entitled “Discussion About Criminal Groups May Lead To Prejudice Against Immigrants,” warns against being prejudiced against foreigners when discussing crime statistics.
However, the reality shows that the crime trend in Iceland is worsening. Gangland killings have become a new phenomenon, including a recent case involving Albanian gang members, which may be fueling anti-immigration sentiment.
“An execution-style murder such as this is practically unheard-of in Iceland and has prompted renewed discussion on the changing criminal landscape in the country and the rise of organized crime and its associated violence. Investigators are confident they have uncovered the motive for the murder, but when pressed by media they declined to offer further details,” reports Global Initiative.
Iceland is still one of the safest countries in the world, but politicians are determined to stamp out the problem before crime escalates, with Western European countries like France serving as ample warning of the consequences of uncontrolled immigration.
Despite government action, the court system has often stymied attempts by the government to control immigration, ruling that some deportations were illegal. In one case, after the Icelandic Directorate of Immigration withdrew food and housing allowances from 20 men who were set to be deported, in 2021 the Asylum Appeals Board said the move was prohibited. The new law should help ensure that migrants can have their housing cut off after 30 days.