Norwegian authorities are cracking down once again on rejected refugees, raiding asylum centers around the country to round up and deport those whose applications for asylum have been rejected. The raids have spurred protests from refugee advocates.
As many as 70 police officers raided an asylum center in Sandnessjøen in northern Norway this week, to apprehend 40 asylum seekers who no longer qualified for legal residence at the center. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that by Thursday, seven had been sent out of the country.
A police spokesman said the raids are “goal-oriented” and aimed at enforcing Norwegian asylum and immigration laws. “We had seen in advance that there were many asylum seekers who had received final decisions that their applications had been rejected, who were still staying at the center in Sandnessjøen,” police Sgt Magne Løvø told NRK. “We needed to do something about that, so we went to work.”
The division of the Norwegian police in charge of enforcing immigration law (Politiets utlendingsenhet) had deported 2,974 persons lacking legal residence permission by the end of August this year. Among them were 848 persons with criminal convictions.
Løvø said the raid on Tuesday is a “signal” of what rejected asylum seekers can expect, as raids continue. “There are an estimated 10,000 asylum seekers lacking legal residence permission in Norway,” he said. “We are targeting them at various asylum centers around the country.”
Policies ‘much too strict’
The raids worry Ann-Margret Austenå, secretary general of the Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers (NOAS). She told NRK.no that several of those targeted in the raid at Sandnessjøen may not have even received word yet that their applications had been rejected.
NOAS staff members annually visit Norwegian asylum centers to assist refugees through the asylum process. Austenå believes the rules are often very complicated for a refugee to understand, and that they don’t realize the consequences of ignoring a rejection, which can ultimately lead to the person being barred from ever entering Norway or other European countries again.
“Asylum policies in Norway are strict,” Austenå told NRK. “In some areas, they are much too strict.” She urged the authorities to make sure asylum seekers know the status of their applications, to avoid the shock of sudden deportation.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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