by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.
Sweden has announced plans to deport some 80,000 asylum-seekers whose applications have been processed and rejected.
The Scandinavian country has been overrun by migrants in recent months, and currently has the highest naturalization rate of immigrants of all European nations.
The decision to expel the migrants was announced by Sweden’s Minister
of the Interior, Anders Ygeman, who explained that charter flights will
be used to convey the migrants back to their home countries over the
next several years.
It is “a great challenge,” Ygeman said. “We’re talking about 60-80 thousand people.”
The Minister said he had instructed police and Migrationsverket, the
national immigration agency, to proceed gradually with the forced
repatriation of the migrants. Sweden has begun talks to coordinate the
deportations with officials from the countries of origin, including
Afghanistan and Morocco.
“We’ll start with those who leave voluntarily, by creating good
conditions and all possible facilities,” he said. “But we cannot limit
ourselves to this, and so we have to proceed with coercive measures.”
The government expects a huge number of migrants who have been
refused asylum to try to stay in Sweden illegally, hoping to fade into
the “gray zone” of anonymity. Sweden has already begun studying measures
to punish offenders who employ illegal workers.
About 163,000 migrants and refugees sought asylum in Sweden during
2015, the highest number per capita in all Europe. Of the 58,800 cases
processed last year, 55% of the asylum requests were approved, while the
remaining 45% were denied.
In 2015, 35,400 of the migrants entering Sweden were unaccompanied minors seeking asylum, five times the number of 2014.
Earlier this week Sweden became the latest in a series of European
countries that have experienced tensions due to incidents of
migrant-related violence. A 15-year-old immigrant was arrested near
Gothenburg after having stabbed to death a 22-year-old female employee
of the asylum center he frequented.
Stockholm recently re-introduced temporary border controls, joining five other EU nations in suspending the Schengen agreement due to overwhelming numbers of migrants.