Record number of foreigners deported

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Coordinated efforts by the Norwegian police and immigration authorities resulted in a record number of foreign nationals being kicked out of Norway last year. Increased numbers of convicted foreigners and rejected refugees are also being kept out of the country if they try to return.

Newspaper Dagsavisen reported earlier this month that the efforts will continue this year, with budgets boosted to help fund and expedite deportations of foreigners lacking legal residence permission in Norway and those involved in crimes. On Monday, Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that most of those being forcibly escorted out of the country have been convicted of crimes. Newspaper Aftenposten, meanwhile, reported that police are especially cracking down on the illegal aliens who openly peddle hashish and other drugs on the streets of downtown Oslo and along the lower banks of the otherwise popular Akerselva river promenade.

Fresh statistics
The reports all stem from new statistics released by state immigration authority UDI (Utlendingsdirektoratet), which show that more than 5,000 foreign nationals were expelled from Norway last year. That’s up from 3,142 deportations in 2011 and 3,958 in 2012, and nearly half of them were convicted of violating Norwegian law.

“This is the highest number we’ve ever had,” UDI director Frode Forfang told NRK, referring to the record number of 5,198 deportations in 2013. His agency formally orders the expulsions,and Forfang sees a clear trend as to why the number has nearly doubled in the past year: “The  increase has been tied to a strong increase in violations of the law.”

Most of those kicked out of Norway are convicted criminals, Forfang said. “We think one of the reasons for the increase is that police have been more conscious of using expulsion as a means of fighting crime,” Forfang told NRK.

Crackdown on asylum centers
Media coverage of illegal aliens who infiltrate asylum centers and use them as a base of operations has led to a crackdown on such activity. Aftenposten reported that police and immigration officials have mounted an extraordinary effort to prevent the asylum centers from being exploited by rejected refugees and others who have no need for asylum protection. More than 2,500 foreign nationals were arrested between 2009 and 2013 for narcotics sales, with arrests up 15 percent last year.

At the same time, police at border entry points are cracking down on people found to be attempting to re-enter Norway after earlier expulsions. That’s not allowed, but it was only last year that police gained the legal means to charge and expel such persons again. Most come from Romania, Dagsavisen reported, followed by Nigeria, Poland, Lithuania and Afghanistan.

“Our biggest challenge is that many of these people, also repeat asylum seekers, operate under different identities,” said Kristin Kvigne, leader of Politiets utlendingsenhet, the police unit charged with enforcing immigration decisions. She told Dagsavisen that around 9 percent of asylum seekers arrive in Norway without correct travel documents.

The drive to deport foreign criminals in Norway began under the former left-center government and has continued under the new conservative government. Budgets have been increased to help fund the forced deportations, which can cost as much as NOK 100,000 (around USD 16,000) each.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund