Yesterday, I took Prøve i Dansk 3, a 5-hour government-sponsored exam designed to test my written and spoken knowledge of Danish. The test resembles The Advanced Placement tests given to high school students in the US with essays, reading comprehension and an oral component (which I will take in a few weeks). In the final part of the test there was an essay which asked students to explain whether society has a responsibility to protect its people by creating laws and rules. It cited examples like whether people should be forced to wear their seat belts or there should be a limit on how old adoptive parents can be.
Since this was a test of grammar rather than civic awareness, I answered the question in the most straight-forward way possible, but as I left the testing site I couldn't get the question out of my head. Denmark has had its fair share of rules and regulations instated over the past year designed to limit immigration and, in the eyes of some politicians, keep undesirable immigrants out and make the country a more safer place. The result has made it difficult for non-EU citizens to legally stay in Denmark and has caused many people to either voluntarily move or be deported. Luckily, my immigration status is safe because of a loop-hole in the law which allows non-EU citizens who moved from another EU country (Sweden, in my case) to be treated like Europeans for immigration matters. Still, I can't help but think of these immigration rules when considering my essay topic.
So here is my real answer to the question, which I will direct to Denmark's Integration Minister, Søren Pind.
Dear Mr. Pind,
In your department's recent Prøve i Dansk 3 exam you asked "New Danes" to explain what society's reponsibility should be in creating rules and laws to protect its people. Should people be responsible for their own safety? Is there a point where society creates too many rules? Judging by your ministry's recent activity, which has created laws which come closer and closer to effectively halting immigration to Denmark all together, I can assume your answer to the questions would be "Yes" and "No," respectively. But as a person for whom these rules determine my livelihood in this country and the cohesion of my family, I can't help but disagree..
A 26-year-old Australian man with two Danish children will be deported in August after Denmark's immigration department told him that his "attachment" to Denmark was not as strong as his attachment to Australia. Furthermore, his 23-year-old Danish fiancee does not have the right to marry him in Denmark, because she is too young to marry a foreigner under Danish law. The man has taken and passed all Danish exams and has worked in Denmark for several years (and paid astronomically high Danish taxes). But despite having a Danish fiancee (who he wants to be his wife) and two children who are Danish citizens, he is more "attached" to Australia in the eyes of the Danish government and thus can not stay in Denmark.
And why must he separate his family, force his child to move, and force his wife to leave her job? Because Danish society wants to protect its people. Because statistics supposedly show that immigrants are the majority of the people committing the crimes, crowding the jails, and taking the handouts, and the Danish government thinks the best way to stop this is to throw up walls, man the borders, and keep away as many outsiders as possible.. History has shown that this is not the best strategy, but Danish politicians think it is their responsibility to impose laws which tell citizens who they can and can't marry, when they can marry, where they can live, and how they can live.
So in response to the original question asked by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I don't think it is society's responsibility to tell a Danish citizen that, at 23-years-old, she is too young to marry the love of her life, a man with whom she already has a child. Nor do I think it is society's responsibility to determine which country she or her children are "most attached" too. It is not society's responsibility to tell its citizens that they can't marry a foreigner without an education (especially when the Danish politician pushing for the law doesn't have a higher educations herself) or a job and it is definitely not society's responsibility to break up families and take small children away from the only culture they know.
Society instead has a responsibility to teach its people how to coexist with one another and thus have enough self-awareness to cope with the evils of the world. This includes giving people the tools to understand other cultures and religious beliefs and choose for themselves which lifestyle fits their own and which person is best to share it with. Borders, laws, and restrictions may serve to temporarily keep the undesirables away, but they will not serve to make the Danish population ready to coexist within a global society that is inevitably part of everyone's lives - whether they like it or not.
a little background info
9 hours ago