Danish immigration officials recently investigated several hundred asylum seekers who claimed to be children, and discovered that about 3/4 of them are adults.
The investigation consisted of forensic scientists conducting X-rays of the asylum seekers’ teeth and finger bones. Through these x-rays, the scientists estimated that 74 percent are in fact over 18 years old, the Jyllands-Posten reports.
The migrants were motivated to lie about their age in an attempt to gain an advantage in the asylum system, which gives special privileges to those under 18.
Martin Henriksen, spokesman of the Danish People’s Party told press that he believes there is purposeful cheating in the system, and that there should be required age testing for all asylum seekers claiming to be under 18, with the exception of obvious small children.
Foreign Minister Inger Støjberg downplays those concerns, saying, “immigration is making great efforts to uncover those who cheat, and is also starting to look at whether this can happen even faster.”
Uncertainty over the age of migrants and refugees is a problem throughout Europe. In the United Kingdom, the government agency Home Office found that in the last decade, there were 11,121 “children” whose age was challenged, and that of that group, about 45 percent were not under 18, the Daily Mail reports.
The U.K. Home Office still has a rule to only investigate a “child” migrant’s age if they appear to be over 25 years old.
However, some skepticism has also emerged about the effectiveness of medical investigation to determine age, with some insisting that measuring teeth and doing x-rays is a poor method, as there is too much variation.