Immigration from Thailand, China is not the problem in Denmark

Mattias Tesfaye (S), minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration in Denmark wants to make a new categorization of immigrant groups.
Photo: Ida Guldbæk Arentsen

Mattias Tesfaye (S), minister of Foreign Affairs and Integration in Denmark wants to ensure a more informed and honest basis for the integration debate with a completely new survey of immigrants in Denmark and new categorization of immigrant groups. Critics say it can become stigmatizing.

It is especially immigration from countries in and around the Middle East that increases integration problems and not for example when a Thai woman comes to Denmark or immigration from Latin America. 

Mattias Tesfaye says: “If we only got immigration from China, the Philippines, Thailand and Brazil, you could fire me, because then we would not have integration challenges in Denmark.

Instead, the minister warns against increasing immigration from Middle Eastern countries, because as he says, “it presents challenges in schools, in shelters, problems with unemployment figures and with crime”. The above facts are based on three to four years of experience and therefore not something that should be overlooked, he adds. 

Today, immigrants are divided exclusively into the two categories of Western and non-Western immigrants. And that, according to Tesfaye, is a problem because the non-Western category contains 190 different countries that as he says, “have absolutely nothing in common with each other.”

In the future, the Ministry of Immigration and Integration Affairs will divide immigrants and descendants into a so-called MENAPT group, which stands for the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey. In an interview with the Danish newspaper Berlingske, Mattias Tesfaye explains that based on the new groups, calculations can be made and used when the ministry investigates the state of crime and employment among immigrants and descendants in Denmark

However, Halima El Abassi, chairwoman of the Council of Ethnic Minorities, does not believe that the new survey can solve problems with crime and negative social control. She fears that it will contribute to the stigma of a social group and does not believe that a new collective term for this group will be beneficial in relation to the existing challenges.

Research director from the analysis and research institute VIVE, Torben Tranæs, believes that the new categorization can be an advantage because it gives politicians the opportunity to find and help the right groups. He however agrees that there is a risk of stigmatization and says that it’s important to be aware of doing it in a non stigmatizing way, not only for the small groups but for all groups. 

Source: TV2 Nyhederne

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

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