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Denmark extends German border controls, debates seizing refugees' valuables

The immigration minister has cited an increase of asylum seekers for the decision following a similar move by Sweden. The announcement comes as center-of-right lawmakers aim to pass controversial legislation on refugees.

The Danish Ministry of Immigration and Integration announced on Wednesday the extension of temporary border controls at its border with Germany as parliament debated a controversial plan to seize refugees' valuables to pay for their stay upon entering the country.

"We, in the government, are closely following the situation, and on that basis, we have chosen to prolong border controls against Germany. It is not something we do gladly, for both the Swedish and Danish border impede free movement in Europe, which we have jointly worked towards for many years," Immigration Minister Inger Stoejberg said in a statement.

The border controls are expected to stay in place for an additional 20 days - until February 3 - after it announced the implementation of such measures earlier this month.

"We have to respond to this extraordinary situation, and we are doing what we believe is necessary to ensure public order and security in Denmark," the minister added.

Danish authorities said the controls may extend "to all internal borders," although the focus would remain on "ferries arriving from Germany and the land border between Germany and Denmark."

Copenhagen's move followed Sweden's decision to implement controls at its borders in a bid to curb asylum seekers and migrants arriving in the country.

While the number of asylum seekers in Demark exceeded 21,000 in 2015, the number is far below the 163,000 that applied in Sweden, which upheld generous asylum policies until recently.

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Seizing valuables

Meanwhile, Denmark's parliament on Wednesday afternoon debated a controversial part of a wider immigration law that would provide Danish authorities the power to confiscate refugees' possessions valued over 10,000 Danish kroner (1,340 euros, $1,450).

Wedding rings, engagement rings, family portraits, medals, and other items of sentimental value may be exempt under the proposed legislation.

The bill was proposed by Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen's right-wing Venstre party, although some of its members have said they would not support such legislation in its current form.

Danish lawmakers are expected to vote through wider legislation seeking to curb migration to Denmark on January 26, including delaying family reunification and cutting benefits for refugees.

ls/jil (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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