Student Ghalia al-Asseh began studying chemistry and biotechnology at the Technical University of Denmark when the country's immigration services summoned her for an interview.

For five hours, immigration officers asked about her proficiency in Danish, which she speaks fluently. They inquired how well integrated she was in Denmark, where she has lived with her family since fleeing Syria in 2015.

During the interview, in February, officers also told Ms. al-Asseh that the security situation in her hometown, Damascus, had improved, and that it was safe for her to return to Syria, she recalled in a telephone interview earlier this month.

Ms. al-Asseh, 27, was losing her right to live in Denmark - even as her four brothers and parents could stay, and she had nowhere else to go.

Those being asked to leave include high school and university students, truck drivers, factory employees, store owners and volunteers in nongovernmental organizations. All risk being uprooted from a country where they have built new lives.

In doing so, Denmark has become the first European Union country to deprive Syrian refugees of their asylum status, even as Syrian remains shattered.

Per Mouritsen, an associate professor of political science at Aarhus University, said the government had toughened its stance on immigration in recent years to avoid losing votes to the right-wing, a dilemma that several left parties across Europe have faced.

Hundreds of detainees have disappeared, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, and the European Union's asylum body has warned that voluntary returnees are at a risk of detention, torture and death.

Ms. al-Asseh, the chemistry and biotechnology student, said she had tried to focus on her studies since learning that her residency permit would be revoked. Yet she said the thought of starting over again  terrified her.

 ''I'm not a danger. I'm not a criminal,'' she said. ''I just want to live here.''

The World Students Society thanks authors Elian Peltier, Jasmina Nielsen and Rick Gladstone.


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