Denmark is boosting cash incentives to entice immigrants to return to their homelands if they ‘can’t or won’t’ assimilate into society.
The offer now on the table is close to £12,000 for every person who takes up the offer to leave.
Critics of the measure say it sends the wrong message to foreigners but the centre-right government in Copenhagen is forging ahead with the plan.
The financial carrot is ten times more than that previously offered under a scheme which as been law since 1997.
‘We thought it was important to substantially increase this aid so that immigrants who want to return home because they are not able to adapt to Danish society have a strong financial basis to start a new life,’ said foreign affairs spokesman Soeren Espersen of the far-right Danish People’s Party.
The offer is aimed at immigrants and refugees who ‘cannot or do not want to integrate into Danish society,’ said the head of the DPP’s parliamentary group, Kristian Tuelesen Dahl.
The centre-right minority government reached an agreement on the financial incentive with the far-right DPP as part of its 2010 budget negotiations.
In addition, 20 million kroner will be set aside for city councils in charge of integrating immigrants to ‘motivate’ foreigners to return to their homelands.
Opposition parties are shocked by the news, and fear it sends the message ‘that foreigners are not welcome in Denmark’.
Since 1997, around 2,524 immigrants have voluntarily repatriated to their home countries, according to Denmark’s refugee, immigrant and integration ministry.
Most of them were from the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Somalia and Turkey.
Immigrants account for about 7.3 per cent of Denmark’s population of 5.5 million.