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Justice Ministry grants seven-year-old second chance at residency
A chink has appeared in the Immigration Service’s armour. On Friday, the Justice Ministry ruled to extend the stay of deportation on a seven-year-old Herning resident, Phatteera, whom the Immigration Service ruled last month ought to be separated from her mother, sister and step-father and sent alone back to Thailand.
Victory still is not certain for Phatteera and her family, but it appears that the battle with the Immigration Service has now turned in their favour, said their lawyer, Åge Kramp. That could be very good news not just for Phatteera, but also for hundreds of other children who, like her, have been denied residency because the Immigration Service says they are not capable of being integrated into Danish society.
Two weeks before Christmas the Immigration Service ruled to deport Phatteera, but after a public outcry, protest from select politicians, commentary from a lawyer with Amnesty International, and a formal appeal from Phatteera’s lawyer, the little girl was allowed to stay in Denmark until after the holidays. On Friday, the Justice Ministry decided to suspend her deportation until her appeal is finalised.
“The answer from the ministry suggests that we will most likely be able to keep Phatteera in Denmark,” Kramp told Berlingske newspaper. “The more time that passes before she is deported, the closer we will be to the date when the government’s new legislation will fall into place.”
The Socialdemokraterne-Radikale-Socialistisk Folkeparti (SRSF) government has promised to change certain immigration rules – particularly the rule introduced in 2004 by the Venstre-Konservative (VK) government, with the full support of Dansk Folkeparti (DF), S, and SF, which gives the Immigration Service the right to deny residency to children of immigrants, if their parents wait more than two years to send for them from their home countries.
Since 2004, under this rule, more than 800 children have been denied residency and separated from parents living in Denmark. In 2010, 206 children – including a two-and-a-half-year-old – were deported by the Immigration Service, Politiken newspaper reports.
In addition to Phatteera’s case, The Copenhagen Post has previously reported on the cases of eight-year-old Ripa and 13-year-old Sirapat, who were also denied residency. Ripa was allowed to stay in Denmark until her appeal is resolved. Sirapat was deported to Thailand last March.
Radikale (R), Enhedslisten (EL) and Liberal Alliance (LA) have been agitating for changes to the immigration rules, but until this month SRSF claimed that they could not stop the child deportations until the immigration rules are formally changed by parliament some time in March.
Kramp and Amnesty International lawyer Claus Juul challenged that claim, and it now appears that the government – and the Justice Ministry’s lawyers – are finally listening.
R immigration spokesperson Zenia Stampe said the decision to allow Phatteera to stay in Denmark was a relief.
“It’s been deeply frustrating, not being able to suspend the deportations until we’re ready with the new rules,” she told Berlingske, adding that “we’re a step closer to our goal and we’re working full speed”.