Denmark has just enacted one of the toughest measures yet to deter refugees from entering their country. Last week the parliament passed a law to seize assets totaling over $1450 from refugees seeking asylum. Items of “sentimental value” will be exempt. In addition, they will now have to wait three years before applying for their families to join them and their financial support will be cut by 10 percent.

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen and his centre-right government have faced tough international criticism, but say the laws have been misrepresented. They add they’re needed to balance the budget and support the costs of housing a refugee. Denmark has been considered a top destination for refugees because of generous benefits provided to them by the state. More than 20,000 people are expected to apply for asylum in Denmark this year. Supporters claim these moves will bring refugees in line with Danes seeking government assistance and assure a better future is paid for. One lawmaker said it’s an effort to make the country look “less attractive”.

Anger against the measures has been loud, widespread and polarising among Danes. The UN has said the move may violate international law and that it could fuel fear and xenophobia; they’ve also expressed concern that the legislation puts even more lives at risk. Critics warn the laws will keep asylum seekers from integrating and move them to the fringes. Some have also said it will have widespread implications across the Schengen Area.

We’ll discuss both sides of the debate today at 19:30 GMT.

In this episode of The Stream, we speak with: 

Kenneth Kristensen Berth @Kristensenberth
Member of Parliament, Denmark

Pernille Skipper @PSkipperEL
Member of Parliament, Denmark

Mohamad Fattal and Dima Karabash
Syrian refugees in Denmark

Mikkel Andersson @AnderssonMikkel
Journalist, Berlingske

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.