Man deported for learning Danish

Yusuf Arabaci should never have signed up for an intensive Danish language course - the class cost him a residence permit

Yusuf Arabaci received formal rejection of his residence permit application on 7 September of this year. Along with the official notification that his permit had been denied, Arabaci was given seven days to leave the country, even though the 25-year-old Turkish-born man had done everything he could to effectively integrate into Danish society.

"I was sure it had to be a mistake. I was told to leave the country because I enrolled in a Danish language class," Arabaci told daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

The Danish Immigration Service ordered Yusuf Arabaci to leave the country, on gorunds that he had neither a steady job nor income for the duration of his Danish language class. But Arabaci's employer, Five Star janitorial company, doesn't buy that line.

"Yusuf Arabaci was employed with our company all along, and came back to work once he completed the language course. If I had known he'd be deported for going to language school, I never would have suggested that he do it," said Five Star director John Christensen.

Yusuf Arabaci and John Christensen have filed a formal appeal with the Integration Ministry and the Danish Immigration Service, and Arabaci will be allowed to remain in Denmark pending a final decision. Arabaci is still at a loss to understand his rights in the present situation.

"I've always gone to work, paid my taxes, and now I'm being sent home for trying to learn Danish," Arabaci lamented.

Speaking with Jyllands-Posten, Arabaci said he believed Danish language classes should be a prerequisite for integration - not grounds for deportation.

"I can see with my colleagues who never learn Danish - they have big problems. They can't read the instructions on the chemicals they use, or communicate with guests at the hotels," said Arabaci.

John Christensen is now warning other companies against committing the same error he did, and says he can't understand why authorities are making such a fuss about integration on the job market, if companies aren't allowed to teach their workers Danish.

"In other words, no one can send their employees to Danish language classes. This is a precedent-setting case. Our company has 20 immigrants enrolled in language school, and we're going to have to pull half of them out," said Christensen.

Integration Minister Bertel Haarder says he will review Yusuf Arabaci's case.

"We are processing the appeal - and in that regard, we will consider the issue of whether Danish language instruction without pay can be regarded as work vis-à-vis the man's application for a work permit," said Haarder.

Haarder noted that Yusuf Arabaci is not comprised under the Alien Integration Act, and that regulations were followed to the letter in Arabaci's case.

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