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"Iron Erna" was better than its reputation.


[4. May 2007] Ny Tid presents this week what for many will be perceived as surprising figures about Norwegian refugee policy. When Conservative leader Erna Solberg was in government, she kept a high profile of her work with refugees and asylum seekers, a profile that gave her the nickname "Iron-Erna". The statistics show that Solberg in government was far better for refugees seeking asylum in Norway than the governments from the other half of the political arena. Gro Harlem Brundtland's last government pursued a refugee policy which, both in pure numbers and in the proportion of approved applications, was far more restrictive than all subsequent governments. The number of people who were allowed to stay in Norway under Gro Harlem Brundtland's governments is startlingly low, compared to the figures under the governments that have stated a desire to be more restrictive.

Trygve Nordby, director of the UDI from 2001 to 2006, says in this week's Ny Tid that he thinks "the extremely restrictive" interpretation of the refugee convention in the 1990s was "shameful". We agree.

The figures show that the expressed principles of changing governments' asylum policy have little to say for what kind of practice they are adopting. The problem is not first and foremost who is in government. Norwegian immigration policy has structural guidelines that are firmly established as one of the strictest immigration policies

the systems in Europe.

Norway has had an immigration stop since 1975. It was supposed to be temporary. After thousands of Pakistanis became Norwegian-Pakistanis and Norwegian working life received a long-awaited replenishment of labor, the Storting closed the borders. Of course, modern democracy cannot refuse refugees, and in recent years Norwegian business has also worked hard to fill the so-called "expert quota" for labor immigrants. They have not succeeded.

Highly qualified labor does not automatically apply to Norway. Most people who move here on this quota come because of love. In the meantime, thousands of refugees have their applications rejected, millions of possible new Norwegians are basically closed out of the country and the Norwegian labor market – not because there is no need for them, but because they are neither defined experts nor threatened with death.

In this way, Norwegian immigration policy impedes the competitiveness of the business community, the threshold for providing protection to those who need it becomes very high, and the room to change this policy greatly. The red-green government is yet to be judged for its refugee policy, but given the opportunity to show the words of the Soria Moria Declaration on a more humane refugee policy in

practice. We want more humane rules and more love.

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