Norway has a new immigration sheriff in town, and so far, it appears that she’s singing the same tune as President Trump on immigration. And oh yeah, Sylvi Listhaug “doesn’t give a damn” about her critics either.
How far are bleeding-heart nations, like Sweden, France, the UK, and Germany willing to take this mass-immigration experiment, before they realize it’s too late to turn back?
Before her appointment to the cabinet on December 16, Listhaug, then agriculture minister, criticized what she called a “tyranny of kindness that is blowing over Norwegian society like a nightmare.”
“It is very serious that politicians are using punitive measures that would make it more difficult for a number of asylum seekers who are entitled to protection,” asylum association spokesman Andreas Furuseth told the Norwegian news agency NTB.
Listhaug said she wanted 40 or so major and minor asylum law changes submitted to parliament in February before the European spring season, when asylum seeker arrivals were expected to rise again.
She told Norwegian NRK public television that her legislative package amounted to a “sharp retrenchment” on wide social entitlements previously granted to refugees.
Some 35,000 asylum seekers arrived in Norway in 2015.
It was a record for the oil and gas-rich Nordic nation of 5.2 million people, which in recent weeks saw fewer arrivals, in part because of border controls reintroduced in neighboring Sweden and the arrival of wintry weather.
NRK said the proposed rule tightening would allow family reunifications only after the applicant had acquired four years of work or education in Norway.
And, the government would issue voucher cards instead of cash for day-to-day items to prevent applicants from sending money to family back home.
Migrants who arrived on transit visas via Russia would not be granted asylum.
Older applicants in the 55 to 67 age group would be required to learn the Norwegian language and aspects of Norwegian society.
Applicants who fail to present identity documents will be refused asylum. A grant of temporary residence would not automatically lead to permanent residence. –DW
When Angela Merkel invited refugees to Germany in 2015, tearing up the rules obliging migrants to seek asylum in the first country they arrive in, the consequences were pretty immediate. Over 160,000 went to Sweden, leading to well-publicised disruption. Next door, things were different. Norway took in just 30,000; this year it has accepted just 2,000 so far. To Sylvi Listhaug, the country’s young immigration minister, this might still be a bit too much.
‘We have a big challenge now to integrate those with permission to stay in Norway to make sure they respect Norwegian values,’ she says. ‘Freedom to speak, to write, to believe or not to believe in a god, how to raise your children.’ Also, she says, what not to do. For example: ‘It is not allowed to beat your children in Norway.’
It’s unusual for a European government minister to link immigration with child-beating, but the 39-year-old Ms Listhaug is accustomed to speaking plainly. The rest of Europe, she believes, is coming around to the Norwegian position.
After decades in opposition, her Progress Party entered government four years ago, a junior partner in a Conservative-run coalition. Her party envisaged the problems of mass migration in the 1980s, she says, so was well ahead of the populist upstarts now haunting so much of Europe. ‘A lot of them are socialist parties but against immigration. We are a libertarian party. We want less government, so people should decide more over their own life. And we want a stricter immigration policy because that’s important for Norway in the long run.’
While Sweden and others saw the migration of 2015 as a blip caused by conflict in Syria and Iraq, she sees it as part of an irreversible demographic trend. ‘Africa is going to gain almost 500 million more people by 2030,’ she says. ‘Much of the Middle East and Africa is fragile. People have difficult lives but can see via mobile phones that life in the West and in Europe is quite different. So I understand why they would like our life, our kind of standards. But it’s not sustainable to integrate so many.’
Why not? Norway, with its oil-generated trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund, is one of the world’s richest countries — and hardly beset by integration issues. This, she says, is because they’ve been careful. ‘Many of the jobs here today perhaps will not be here tomorrow. Working in supermarkets for example — those kinds of jobs that don’t need higher education. Those who come to Norway without any education — what are they going to do in the future if this continues?’
The case for limiting economic migration is clear. But about half of the registered asylum seekers in the EU, last year were from countries that were struck by conflict. Can Norway justify taking so few? Ms. Listhaug is a practicing Christian (albeit skeptical of the ‘thoroughly socialist’ Church of Norway) and says her government’s immigration policy, when combined with its aid policy, is not just a moral response, but the most effective moral response.
‘For me it’s a moral issue as well. You can’t just help the ones you see. You have to think about the millions you don’t see and that have a very difficult life in the world.’
She’s referring to the refugee camps in Jordan, where both Norway and the UK send aid to help those displaced by war. Norway gave £23 million to its Jordanian mission last year, almost twice as much, per capita, as Britain. The cost of helping refugees at home is taken from its foreign aid budget, so as its influx subsides and costs fall, all savings are used to help refugees abroad. Some £370 million has been transferred so far, with more expected next year.
So to Ms. Listhaug, it’s not a question of whether to help refugees, but how best to do so. We meet after she visited Brandon Lewis, her British counterpart, who gave her a striking statistic: ‘The immigration minister here in Britain said that for the price of helping 3,000 young people here, he could help 100,000 children in other parts of the world.’
She sees this as a modern way to help asylum seekers — and more practical than the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, which obliges signatories to accommodate anyone with a ‘well-founded fear of persecution’.
‘It was an agreement for its time,’ she says. ‘But when people travel through 20 countries to come to a safe haven, I think people can see that this is not right. You could have a safe haven in your neighboring country, so why go so far?’
Western countries that define their virtue by the number of refugees they let in, she says, also face a moral question: ‘Why should we have a system that works for the people who have money [to pay for the journey] while the rest of the refugees and people in need don’t have the money to go?’
People traffickers, she says, thrive on governments that follow the old rules and accept those who turn up on their shores. ‘If you smuggle an unaccompanied minor from Afghanistan to Europe, they say it is between $3,000 and $20,000.’ Young girls, she says, are sometimes sold to old men to finance such a journey. ‘Also, children are killed, or raped, on their way. So we need to have this under control.’
Ms Listhaug provoked fury in Sweden a few weeks ago by visiting a suburb in Stockholm notorious for unrest among its young immigrant population. She called it a ‘no-go zone’ — a phrase that the Swedes angrily reject. But she doesn’t seem to mind causing a fuss, especially as she thinks her critics are coming around to her way of thinking. Nor does she mind using Sweden as a case study in what not to do. ‘A lot of countries in Europe are thinking more like us: like Denmark and Austria. Germany, as well… France has big problems right now with integration, as does Belgium. A lot of countries in Europe see that we need to have this under control.’
The Norwegian model, she says, is very different and very clear. “If you are an economic migrant, you are declined in Norway,” she says. “We send people back to Afghanistan if they are not in need of protection; we send them back to Somalia if they are not in need of protection.” Isn’t this a rather expensive process? “Yes, but it’s well worth it.” Police are also sent out to areas where illegal immigrants are suspected of living and working. “If we find them, we send them out. That has also decreased crime in Norway, that’s very good.”
I ask Listhaug if she is getting used to being called cruel and heartless. How does it make her feel? Her response comes quickly: ‘I don’t give a damn,’ she says. She thinks her approach is right, and the consensus is wrong. And, as she says, an increasing number of other countries think the same. A new consensus might well be in the making. –SpectatorUK
So what do her neighbors in Sweden think of her tough positions on asylum seekers? The Swedish resident in the video below has nothing but praise for Listhaug. He openly praises her while mocking the “lefties” who have allowed out-of-control migration to destroy much of Sweden. In the video below, he reminds Swedes of the startling crime statistics they are facing:
“In Sweden, we have 10 times more car torchings. Do you want this? We have 4 times more violent killings than Norway. Is that what you want? Well, you should listen to your lefties, and be more like Sweden, It’s interesting, the migration minister Sylvi Listhaug, came to Sweden to find out for herself, she wanted to find out what not to do in Norway.”