A new package of amendments has been designed to tighten citizenship requirements in Denmark, Danish Radio reported.
Introducing tougher financial and legal requirements, Immigration and Integration Minister Inger Støjberg said becoming a Danish citizen was "something special" and explained that the tougher rules are intended to make Danish citizenship "something to strive for."
"The government only wants to grant citizenship to foreigners who have been here for many years and who have clearly shown that they both can and will respect Danish society and our Danish values," Støjberg said.
Støjberg stressed that people who have committed a serious crime in Denmark should of course automatically forfeit the right to become Danish citizens.
Other suggestions include obligating potential citizens to become more self-sufficient and not rely on any public assistance (including unemployment benefits) for at least two years.
One of the suggestions even include a citizenship ceremony for would-be citizens, including signing a statement where they pledge to uphold the Danish Constitution.
The Danish government has been gradually tightening citizenship rules since 2015. Incidentally, this has resulted in a drop in the percentage of Muslim becoming citizens, which fell from 70 percent in 2014 to only 21 percent in 2018. In the same period Denmark has opened up regulations for dual citizenship, potentially spurring nationalization from Western countries.
"In my view, there is no doubt at all that it is much easier to integrate a Christian American than a Muslim Somali," Støjberg said, as quoted by the Berlingske daily. "It is clear that if you come from other parts of the world, you have to exert yourself somewhat harder to, for example, learn the language," Støjberg added.
In the past few years, the average processing time of citizenship requests has risen dramatically, from 440 days or 15 months in 2016 to 520 days or 17 months in 2017. In 2018, the average processing time has risen to 640 days or 21 months.
Eva Ersbøll, a senior researcher from the Institute of Human Rights, estimated that the processing time will soon exceed two years, calling the development "troubling."
Ersbøll claimed it was "never good" to have people wait that long. She also stressed the fact that many people are unable to leave the country or even apply for a job while waiting for a decision.
According to the Immigration and Integration Ministry, there are currently 10,000 pending applications, compared with 13,000 in 2016. Liberal Party spokesman Jan Jørgensen admitted that only the oldest applications have been processed so far, but expressed hope that the process will speed up in the foreseeable future.
Following Støjberg's comment, the anti-immigration Danish People's Party (DF) called for a limit to be placed on the amount of people awarded Danish citizenship, regardless of other requirements being met. According to DF, the limit should stay at 1,000 annually.