About time some one wised up.
The Guardian reports that Sweden needs “respite” from the tens of thousands of refugees knocking at its door and has announced tough measures to deter asylum seekers in a sharp reversal of its open-door policy towards people fleeing war and persecution.
The country’s generous asylum regime would revert to the “EU minimum” meaning that most refugees would receive only temporary residence permits from April. Sweden’s prime minister Stefan Löfven said identity checks would be imposed on all modes of transport, and the right to bring families to Sweden would be severely restricted.
“We are adapting Swedish legislation temporarily so that more people choose to seek asylum in other countries. We need respite,” Löfven said. “It pains me that Sweden is no longer capable of receiving asylum seekers at the high level we do today. We simply cannot do any more.”
Refugees began arriving this autumn at a rate of 10,000 a week, until Sweden imposed border controls two weeks ago. Official estimates suggest up to 190,000 could come to the country of 10 million people this year.
The rise in refugee numbers has caused a frantic scramble to place roofs over their heads. At the weekend refugees arriving in the southern city of Malmö were forced to sleep on the streets because no beds could be found.
The changes were very difficult for the Social Democrats’ junior coalition partner, the Green party, seen as the most refugee-friendly of Sweden’s main political parties. The Greens’ deputy prime minister, Åsa Romson, broke into tears as she announced the measures. “This is a terrible decision,” she said later, admitting that the proposals would make life even more precarious for refugees. But quitting the government would have made a bad situation even worse, she added.
The leader of Sweden’s centre-right bloc, Anna Kinberg Batra, welcomed the measures but said they were not enough, and that asylum policy needed to be tightened even further. “Sweden needs to act now to bring order to an untenable situation,” she said.
Common sense finally prevailed over their emotions. The reversal in asylum policy was a reluctant decision, “more about practicalities than a new world view”, said Jonas Hinnfors, professor of politics at Gothenburg University. “The writing has been on the wall, the authorities cannot cope.”
Sweden’s new asylum regime will apply for three years. Temporary residence permits will be granted to all refugees apart from those relocated to Sweden under the EU’s quota scheme and families with children and unaccompanied children who have already arrived. Sweden’s border police also announced a doubling of officers on Sweden’s southern coast, where most refugees arrive. Since the imposition of border controls on November 12th, the average number of asylum seekers has fallen from 1,507 per day to 1,222, according to immigration officials.