Yiming, 13, lives with her Chinese mother and Danish stepfather in the town of Silkeborg, Denmark. Her stepfather, a former Danish soldier, met his wife while serving abroad in the military.
The couple and Yiming moved to Denmark in September 2016. Once they arrived, they filed the appropriate paperwork for the 13-year-old to live in Denmark with her family.
However, the Danish Immigration Service rejected the family’s application, saying Yiming would be unable to “achieve the necessary attachment to Denmark that is required for a successful integration,” TV Midtvest reported.
The family was given just seven days’ notice from the time of the decision until May 31, when it takes effect.
The girl’s stepfather, Kjeld Gaard-Frederiksen, disagrees with the ruling, stating that Yiming has already made huge strides in a short amount of time.
“If Yiming isn’t integrated, the word should be removed from the Danish dictionary. She has learned Danish impressively fast and socially she’s also doing well, which the huge support from the school’s students and children shows,” he told Jyllands-Posten newspaper, referring to a petition launched by Yiming’s classmates.
As of Tuesday, that petition had garnered more than 1,700 signatures, according to TV Midtvest.
The girl’s stepfather went on to state that he never thought the immigration application would have been rejected.
“I never imagined it. I am married to her mother, her mother has full custody, and it is a 13-year-old child. I could never have predicted this,” he said.
“This decision is splitting the family,” he continued.
It’s not just the girl’s classmates and family who believe Yiming has already integrated into the country – her head teacher believes the same.
“We think she’s already integrated. Because being integrated means being part of a community, and that the community sees her as being a part of it. And that is in fact what we think,” head teacher Claes Pedersen told TV Midtvest.
Yiming’s mother and stepfather have filed an appeal against the decision. If the appeal is denied, Gaard-Frederiksen says he and his family will be forced to relocate abroad – a move which he says will essentially amount to him being deported from his own country.
“If this decision is not changed then I don’t see any other option than us moving abroad, which means I am de facto deported from my own country,” he said.
The ruling by the Danish Immigration Service came just weeks after statistics presented to parliament forecast that one-fifth of the Danish population will either be foreign-born or of foreign descent by 2060. In March, government statistics stated that nearly one in five babies born in Denmark in 2016 had a non-Danish mother.
Meanwhile, Denmark – which was hit with an influx of asylum seekers during the European refugee crisis – saw the lowest number of people applying for asylum in six years, during the first quarter of 2017. Just 714 people filed applications during that period, suggesting that this year will see far fewer applications than 2016, when 6,235 people applied.