Deportation of family postponed after protests

Immigration Service’s decision to reconsider a case in which they gave a family one month to leave the country once again demonstrates the power of media intervention

Fear was replaced by instant relief when Lilit Djaladian, her husband and their two sons got the news that they won’t be deported on November 25 after all.

Djaladian's oldest son, ten-year-old Armen, is in third grade at a primary school in Havdrup and his classmates and their parents have helped bring media attention to the family's immigration plight. Yesterday, friends and neighbours of the family demonstrated outside the Justice Ministry against the family's impending deportation.

"This means so much to our family," Djaladian told Politiken newspaper. "It shows how much Armen's classmates love him and how much all of Havdrup wants us to stay. I feel positive that all is going to end well and I think we will get a fair trial from now on."

READ MORE: Deportation of 1-year-old may be illegal

Humanitarian residency extension denied
Djaladian was born in Azerbaijan but has lived in Denmark for 14 years with her Serbian husband, Harris Kirjestorac, whom she met at an asylum centre. They have both been working since they were granted residency on humanitarian grounds four years ago. In addition to Armen, they have a two-year-old son who attends a local daycare in Havdrup, which is near Roskilde. 

Last month, the family had their residency renewal rejected because the prescription medicine the husband was taking for his sclerosis had become available in his home country of Serbia.

"But the medicine is expensive, so I am not sure he will get it there. If he doesn't, he will risk becoming blind or paralysed," Djaladian said. "Besides, I couldn't go with him, because then I will be stateless. I wouldn't be there legally. I wouldn't be able to work, I don't know the language and we wouldn't have a home or any money."

Lawyer: What about all the others?
After several attempts to get their residency extended were rejected, the family's lawyer Helge Nørrung applied for residency after the immigration law's paragraph 9, clause 1c, which allows residency under very special circumstances such as a family's particular situation.

Four days later, Immigration Service replied that the case is now being evaluated once again, and that the Djaladian family can stay in the country until it is completed.

"I don't recall the authorities ever getting back to me that quickly before," Nørrung told Politiken newspaper. "It is reasonable to suspect that that the quick response was because of all the media attention. That is great for this particular family, but what about all the people who don't have those connections?"

There have been a number of cases in which people have had their residency and family reunification denials overturned following media scrutiny. Last week, the seven-year-old Thai girl, Im Nielsen, was to be deported with her mother after her Danish stepfather died of cancer, but the media storm that followed led political parties to agree upon a special law to let them stay in the country.

READ MORE: Special law saves Thai girl, but hundreds aren't so lucky

Nørrung criticised the Immigration Service's handling of the Djaladian family's case, and said it is "indecent" to deport a family who have lived here for 14 years with just one month of warning.

"When the authorities are aware of other options within the jurisdiction that could eventually mean that the family could stay, then they should inform the family about their options," he added.

Justice Minister Morten Bødskov (S) said he didn't want to comment on the case as long as it is ongoing.