Public protests didn’t help: Rejected refugee Maria Amelie was ordered onto a flight to Moscow Monday afternoon, after losing her appeals to remain in Norway after spending a third of her life in the country. She was accompanied onto the flight by two police officers, and her boyfriend.
Amelie, who was arrested on January 12 after many years as both an illegal alien and star student in Norway, had been ordered to report in to police every day since first an appeals court and then the Supreme Court ordered her release from detention last week.
When she showed up Monday morning, she was told she would be sent out of the country within a few hours. Her attorney filed a last-ditch appeal with a city judge (byfogdembete) and the judge requested a court meeting to evaluate a postponement of Amelie’s deportation. Immigration board UNE refused, however, to halt it pending the court decision.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) showed photos of Amelie and her boyfriend, Eivind Trædal, boarding an Aeroflot flight to Moscow and sitting on the aircraft at about 1:30pm. The flight took off shortly thereafter.
Amelie had been resisting her forced return to Russia, arguing that Norway “is my home.” She came to Norway with her family as a minor and stayed on illegally when the family’s application for asylum was rejected. She learned fluent Norwegian, managed to obtain an education and supported herself, albeit at least in part by working illegally.
She went public last year when she wrote a book about her life as an undocumented worker, which has turned the spotlight on thousands of others like her in Norway.
The government refused to step in and order immigration officials to reverse their deportation order, saying that would be unfair to all the other illegal aliens who are sent out of the country every week. Thousands of Norwegians have demonstrated on her behalf during the past week, arguing that she was a child when she arrived, had integrated well and proven she’d be a valuable member of Norwegian society, but to no avail.
A new public opinion poll over the weekend, however, indicated that she lost some public support in recent days. While less than 30 percent thought she should be deported last week, 48 percent supported her forced return on Saturday, reported NRK, since she had broken immigration rules.
The government did agree to ease entry requirements for deported illegal aliens as a result of her case, opening the possibility that Amelie could apply from Russia for work permission in Norway, where she already has several job offers.