Family leaves Denmark after reunification denial

Their case was denied because Danish husband received rehabilitation benefits in connection with an accident at work and therefore did not live up to the family reunification rules

After five months of battling the immigration authorities, Aarhus resident Kenneth Iversen, his Vietnamese wife Yen Ngoc and their two children have left for Germany where they hope to receive better treatment.

Aarhus City Council member Helge Jørgensen said he has been in contact with the family and they told him that they decided to leave the country after attempts to get their case re-opened by the immigration appeals council, Udlændingenævnet, were rejected.

“I have received an SMS from Kenneth Iversen, who told me that they’ve been in Germany for some time and hope the Germans treat them better than Denmark did,” Jørgensen told TV 2 Østjylland.

Jørgensen went on to say that he had decided to leave his party, Socialdemokraterne, in protest over the government's inaction on Yen Ngoc's case.

Rejected because of work-injury benefits
Yen Ngoc was denied family reunification because Iversen, a Danish citizen, had previously received rehabilitation benefits in connection with an accident at work and therefore did not live up to the family reunification rules that state that the Danish partner in a relationship cannot have received public benefits.

The family’s lawyer has tried to get the case re-opened at Udlændingenævnet, but Yen Ngoc was once again denied on September 2. In the denial letter, she and her ten-year-old daughter, Ann Thu, were told to leave Denmark.

Thu is Yen Ngoc’s daughter from a previous marriage, while Iversen and Yen Ngoc have a young son together.

No help from the Justice Ministry
The mayor of Aarhus, Jacob Bundsgaard (Socialdemokraterne), has supported the family throughout their ordeal and said he was disappointed that his efforts to apply pressure on the justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), failed to pay off.

“I think that it is an inhumane and unjust case," Bundsgaard told TV 2 Østjylland. "It is sad that a family is forced to leave a place they want to be. At the same time, we lose a competent worker who will probably be replaced by foreign labour.” 

The expulsion of the family was initially postponed because the stress of the family's situation had pushed Yen Ngoc to attempt suicide and she was admitted to a psychiatric ward.

The head of Udlændingenævnet, Michael Lohmann Kjærgaard, confirmed that Yen Ngoc’s case would not be re-opened and did not want to comment further on the case.

Popular and political support
The family's case has received a lot of media attention and has led to a call from far-left party Enhedslisten to change family reunification laws. Bødskov told TV2 News, however, that the government has no plans to make changes to family reunification legislation.

Over 4,000 people have signed a petition showing their support for the family and requesting that Yen Ngoc and her daughter be allowed to stay in Denmark.