Since enacting a controversial law in January 2016 allowing the authorities to confiscate cash and valuables worth above DKK 10,000 ($1,520) from arriving migrants, which internationally became known as the "jewellery law", only a single car and DKK 186,000 ($28,000) have been seized, but no valuables, the Danish newspaper Skrivefolkeblad reported.
Under the guidelines set forth by the Danish Immigration Ministry, the police were not to take wedding or engagement rings. The value of other items was left to be determined by individual officers.
While left-wing politicians concluded that the law had symbolic rather than practical value and called for a legal change, Immigration Minister Inger Støjberg defended the legislation. Despite the low number of confiscations, the law has had a deterring effect, she claimed, citing Denmark's refugee intake in 2018, the lowest since 2008, as a proof that overall, Denmark's immigration restrictions are paying off.
"It is a matter of principle that if you can provide for yourself, you must do so. This applies both to Danes and the refugees who come here," Støjberg said in a statement.
Martin Henriksen, the foreign spokesman of the right-wing Danish People's Party, said he would like the law tightened further to allow the authorities to check asylum seekers' funds in foreign bank accounts. In this proposal, he was joined by the Social Democrats' foreign spokesman Mattias Tesfaye, who found it "quite logical". Nevertheless, Støjberg brushed this option aside as "unrealistic".
By contrast, the critics of the law used the low number of confiscations as a pretext to call for its abolition.
"We believe that, instead of making symbolic restrictions such as this, a new and humane asylum system should be brought in, so people don't have to flee," Socialist People's Party parliamentary group leader Jacob Mark told the tabloid daily BT.
"The jewellery law has turned out to be purely symbolic. I wish Danish politics spent more time on efforts that change and improve the world instead of sending unpleasant signals," the Alternative political spokesman Rasmus Nordqvist tweeted.
The disputed jewellery law was adopted by a broad parliamentary majority. It was supported by the parliamentary parties Vestre, the Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives, the right-wing Danish People's Party as well as the opposition Social Democrats.
At the time of its introduction, the law received harsh criticism from left-wing parties and international human rights groups, including the US-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW). In 2016, HRW director Kenneth Roth slammed Denmark as a "rich country" preying on "desperate asylum seekers", labelling the law as "despicable" and "vindictive". The international media also spewed out disapproval, with The Independent publishing a cartoon of Copenhagen's Little Mermaid armed with a pistol and dripping with jewels and The Guardian portraying Danish Prime Minister in a Nazi uniform.