Ásmundur Friðriksson, an MP for the Independence Party who is running for office again, has once again penned a column against asylum seekers in Iceland, saying that the money spent on them takes money away from pensioners and the disabled. However, Ásmundur has himself voted against, or declined to vote in favour of, increasing funding for the elderly and the disabled.
Vísir reports that, in a column published by Morgunblaðið, Ásmundur called into question the money spent on maintaining asylum seekers in Iceland, stating that asylum seekers put pressure on Iceland’s housing market and health care system. He furthermore contended that asylum seekers receive “much better support” than Iceland’s pensioners and disabled.
However, not only do Ásmundur’s contentions not hold up to scrutiny; he has himself voted against and declined to vote in favour of increasing payments to Iceland’s pensioners and disabled.
When it comes to the housing market, asylum seekers are predominantly not put in “free apartments”, as he contended. Rather, the vast majority are placed in group facilities that are in many ways worse than prisons in Iceland. Furthermore, their access to “free health and dental care” is sorely lacking, with dental care comprising either having teeth pulled or being given pain killers.
Most importantly, as Eyjan points out, Ásmundur has himself first voted against increasing payments to the elderly and the disabled. After saying he would in the future vote in favour of an increase next time, when the matter came up for a parliamentary vote, he instead opted to abstain.
In point of fact, as others have pointed out, a large chunk of the government money spent on asylum seekers goes towards the deportation process; not integration.
While others in the Independence Party, such as Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson, have attempted to defend Ásmundur’s remarks by saying that the real point of contention rests on “groundless” asylum applications from so-called safe countries, Grapevine has pointed out that the countries which the government categorises as safe are anything but.
Ásmundur has made a name for himself as being a vocal opponent of accepting more asylum seekers. His remarks have drawn criticism, even from within his own party. That criticism has arisen once again, with some Independence Party members encouraging people to cross his name off the ballot when they vote on October 28.