A seven-year-old girl, Im Nielsen, and her mother, Suthida Nielsen, have been ordered by Hjørring District Court to leave Denmark to move back to their native Thailand, TV2 Nord reports.
The court decided last week to uphold the Immigration Service's decision for the mother-daughter duo to leave Denmark. The family maintains that their ties to Denmark are greater than those to Thailand, and brought their case before the court. Im has lived in Denmark for approximately half her life, does not speak Thai, and is fully integrated into Danish society. She is currently in first grade at Aabybro Skole.
The case, which was first heard in court on September 20, is the result of a joint decision by the Immigration Service (Udlændingestyrelsen) and the immigration appeals council, Udlændingenævnet, that the pair were no longer permitted to live in Denmark after Im's stepfather (Suthida's husband) died of cancer last year. Udlændingestyrelsen thus ruled that the Nielsens no longer had a valid tie to Denmark. The Hjørring judge postponed a decision for three weeks so that all facts could be considered.
"One could very well fear that when two administrative authorities have reached an agreement, the judge will simply follow suit," Jens H Bech, the Nielsen family's lawyer, told TV2 Nord. "So it is reassuring that he tabled it and really considered the matter for three weeks. I feel very comfortable with that."
Following the recent court ruling, the Nielsen family has yet to decide whether or not they will appeal against the decision to the Western High Court.
Different grounds, same story
Though the grounds for Udlændingestyrelsen's decisions may vary, this is hardly the first time that the deportation of a child has made news.
In a high-profile 2011 case, the Justice Ministry denied the family reunification appeal of 13-year-old Thai boy Sirapat Kamminsen. The boy was forced to leave Denmark, leaving behind his mother, step-father and half-brother. Udlændingestyrelsen determined that he was not sufficiently capable of integrating and he was sent to Thailand despite having no close relatives there who could care for him.
In another 2011 case, 8-year-old Ripa faced deportation on the basis of Udlændingestyrelsen's claims that she was incapable of integration. Despite her parents' urgent pleas and letters of support from her teachers, Udlændingestyrelsen decided that Ripa was incapable of integrating and therefore could not stay with her family in Denmark.
The government relaxed family reunification laws last year and, as a result, fewer young children have had their family reunification applications turned down based on their perceived ability to integrate. In 2010, 96 under-12s had their applications denied for this reason, but in May the Justice Ministry reported that only six under-12s have had their applications turned down in a little under a year.