Norway’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that illegal alien Maria Amelie must be allowed to remain free until she’s eventually sent out of the country. Amelie, who was released from custody on Tuesday, said on national TV that Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg now holds her life in his hands.
“It is in fact Jens Stoltenberg who has my life in his hands right now,” Amelie told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on its national news show Dagsrevyen. She made the rounds of TV programs and sat for interviews for hours after she was set free from a detention center for rejected asylum seekers.
On Wednesday afternoon came the good news that she can remain free, albeit with a requirement that she check in with police on a daily basis, until immigration authorities arrange her deportation. The Norwegian Supreme Court (Høyesterett) upheld a lower court’s order for Amelie’s release, which police had appealed.
Now Amelie doesn’t have to return to the detention center and she remains hopeful the government will ultimately allow her to stay in Norway, where she arrived nearly nine years ago with parents who were fleeing the Caucasus when she was still a minor.
The family was denied asylum but stayed illegally. Amelie, a pseudonym she adopted because she said it sounded “more Norwegian,” managed to integrate well into Norwegian society, complete secondary school with high marks and even obtain a master’s degree before she last year went public with her status as an illegal alien. She wrote a book about the situation for undocumented workers and was named “Norwegian of the Year” by a local magazine.
Last week, however, after more than eight years in Norway, she was arrested by police and taken to the detention center where she was told she’d be sent back to Russia. Her arrest mobilized thousands of Norwegians all over the country to demand she be allowed to stay, amidst calls for reforms of strict Norwegian immigration laws.
Even though members of Norway’s coalition government have been working furiously to reach a compromise over her fate, with the Socialist Left party arguing against her deportation, Stoltenberg held firm on Wednesday under harsh questioning in the Norwegian Parliament.
“Do you like being in the company of France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi?” queried Trine Skei Grande of the Liberal Party (Venstre), referring to the French and Italian politicians who are far more conservative than Stoltenberg’s Labour Party.
“We must take the consequences of the policies we have,” Stoltenberg replied, calling them “humane, fair and consistent.” He added, though, that the policies “involve individual evaluation.” There has been criticism that Amelie’s case hasn’t been evaluated separately from her parents’, and that’s given rise to hopes she’ll ultimately avoid deportation given her own strong personal ties to Norway, where she has spent a third of her life.
Stoltenberg also noted that “we are always open to adjusting the rules.” The problem, according to Stoltenberg, is that Amelie has broken the law and it wouldn’t be fair for her to be allowed to stay when others in a similar situation are deported.
The most likely solution will be a deportation but without a formal expulsion, meaning that Amelie may be able to return to Norway relatively quickly. She has received several job offers already.