The news report is here: Denmark legalizes confiscation of valuables from immigrants (CNN)
This new law in Denmark allows the government to seize cash, jewelry, watches, mobile phones, computers, and other valuables (except for things of sentimental value) from “asylum seekers”, i.e. refugees or other immigrants. The law proposes that this confiscation of private property is a payment to cover the expenses caused by their immigration into the nation. But in truth, the law is nothing other than legalized theft.
Human persons have a fundamental right to own private property [Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church, 176-178]. The needs of the common good can at times limit that right, allowing the larger community to use or possess what would otherwise be private property, but only in cases of dire need.
Denmark is one of the wealthy nations of the world. Many of the refugees immigrating to Denmark are poor; they are displaced unwillingly from their homes, fleeing with whatever they can carry. The larger wealthy community does not have a dire need for the private property of these poor individuals.
The claim that this confiscation is a payment of expenses is specious. The refugees are not presented with a bill, explaining the services rendered and their cost. Moreover, every nation has a moral responsibility to help persons in need, especially the poor, as a charity to one’s neighbor. A wealthy nation forcing the poor to pay for services which should be given as a type of alms by the community is contrary to the moral law. The love of neighbor requires the wealthy to assist the poor, and that obligation applies to the local community and the nation, as well as to individuals.
Therefore, the confiscation of their private property is theft. It is the legalized theft of private property from the poor by the wealthy. This situation reminds me of the Monty Python sketch: Dennis Moore “He steals from the poor and gives to the rich….”
This law is also an expression of bias (and perhaps hatred) directed at migrants. The recent influx of many displaced persons into Europe and the U.S. has caused the rise of a sociopolitical bias against immigrants, even when the persons immigrating are in dire need because of poverty or war or terrorism or hatred in their own nation.
The love of neighbor is an indispensable positive precept which requires us to treat the stranger and the immigrant with compassion. And this is all the more true when a nation, such as the U.S. or a European nation, has plenty of resources while the immigrants are poor and in dire need.
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