Thousands of migrants paid by Swedish gov't to leave

Monday, August 29, 2016
Michael F. Haverluck (

Sweden flagTo alleviate immigration problems caused by taking in hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers, the Swedish government is paying migrants to leave the country.

The flood of migrants that has relocated to the Scandinavian nation has spurred government officials to give asylum seekers an incentive to return to their native lands.

“Sweden has seen over 4,500 asylum seekers withdraw their applications to remain in the country this year, a new record,” Townhall reports. “This is double the number of people who withdrew their applications during the first eight months of 2015.”

A crackdown on immigration has spurred many entering Sweden from the Middle East to rethink their plans for a new life in northern Europe.

“Potential migrants are leaving Sweden after the country passed new, stricter regulations on immigration and offered monetary payouts to people who voluntarily returned to their home countries,” Townhall’s Christine Rousselle informed.

A British paper confirmed the amount offered to migrants, the number who have accepted the payoff and the more rigid conditions that have spurred their decision to leave.

“Sweden is no longer a utopia for asylum seekers, but the Swedish Government is offering migrants up to £3,500 each to Asylum seekers," The Independent announced. “A record 4,542 asylum seekers withdrew their applications and left Sweden in the first eight months of 2016 as a result of long processing times, strict new rules on family reunion, and payouts to migrants who voluntarily returned to their country of origin.”

Times have changed

Sweden, which has been a destination of choice for many Muslim refugees over the years — similar to other European nations such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany, which have all faced problems caused by militants from the relocated communities — has recently had to deal with problems of its own caused by the flood of migrants.

“Sweden was once considered a ‘utopia’ for people seeking asylum due to the country's welcoming attitudes and sizable benefits programs,” Rousselle added. “This is no longer the case.”

As a result of the Swedish government addressing the immigration problem, a reversal in numbers has been witnessed.

“The situation has changed so much, the number of people from Iraq who cancelled their asylum applications in 2016 (1,366) is actually greater than the number of new claims from Iraqi asylum seekers (1,243),” The Independent announced.

Iraq is just one of the Islamic nations that has seen this trend with its people who leave to seek a new home in the Europe and North America.

“A similar trend can be seen among Afghans,” the British news outlet continued. “Statistics show only 18 per cent of Afghans are likely to have their asylum applications approved, so many are choosing to leave of their own accord. In all, 500 people from Afghanistan have withdrawn their applications so far in 2016.”

The decline in numbers of those desiring to make Sweden their permanent residence was more pronounced this year.

“There were also less than half as many new claims made between January and August 2016, as in the same period of 2015,” the report explained. “Sweden used to be one of Europe’s most popular destinations for migrants, with the number of asylum applications doubling between 2014 and 2015 to more than 160,000.”

Lifting a burden

The once-popular choice of asylum seekers has evidently reached its limit and can no longer support the influx of Muslims who have exhibited a prolonged reliance on the government for assistance.

“A high success rate – 55 per cent of claims were accepted in 2015 – combined with generous welfare benefits for asylum seekers, and a comparatively welcoming population, made the country extremely popular with people fleeing war and persecution, and left the Scandinavian nation with the second highest number of refugees per capita in Europe,” The Independent stated. “But for many asylum seekers who arrived during the influx last year, Sweden has proved less of a utopia than they hoped. Many faced a long, cold winter in political limbo, camped out in makeshift accommodation while the state struggled to cope with the large number of new claims. Less than 500 of the 160,000 arrivals have managed to secure jobs.”

New measures had to be taken to keep Sweden from an impending economic disaster.

“Concerned about the strain placed on the economy of the country, which was expected to spend about one per cent of its GDP on asylum seekers in 2016, the Swedish Migration Agency, a government department responsible for processing claims, introduced tougher rules at the start of 2016, designed to deter and keep out asylum seekers,” the British paper said. “New border controls were brought in, as were stricter rules surrounding family reunion. Housing was withdrawn for failed asylum seekers and plans announced to expand immigration detention.”

And as a result, it appears that the stress on the economy is subsiding.

“As a consequence of the change in rules and attitude, the Migration Agency is now predicting just 60,000 new asylum claims overall in 2016, and has revised its estimate of how much money it will need to accommodate asylum seekers to £4.8 billion less than was originally estimated,” statistics provided by The Independent show.

State officials insist that the turnaround has nothing to do with discrimination based on race or religion.

“Most Swedes are not racist,” expressed Ylva Johansson, the Minister for Employment and Integration. “But when there is this special asylum housing when they cannot work, and cannot be part of society this is really a tension. This is a dangerous situation; we have a lot of people in no-man's land ... living outside society.” 

The government is not the only sector in Sweden worried about the immigration problem.

“The Swedish public also appear to be have become more hostile to migrants,” the daily reported. “A survey released in February showed immigration was the main concern for 40 per cent of Swedes, above worries about failing schools, joblessness and welfare. The change was the biggest opinion swing in the poll's history.”

Considering their options

There are a number of factors spurring migrants to leave Scandinavia for good.

“As well as deterring new claimants, the situation has encouraged a greater number of asylum seekers to take the government up on a scheme which has been in place since the start of 2013: offering grants of up to 30,000 Kronor (£3,500) to individuals and 75,000 Kronor (£8,600) to families who return to their country of origin voluntarily,” The Independent pointed out. “The money is only handed out after the individual or family has left Sweden.”

Another government official noted that worsening conditions have forced inevitable changes on immigration policies.

“We are getting signals that asylum seekers are tiring of long processing times and that things have not turned out as they expected in Sweden,” Kristina Ränner, a Migration Agency expert told local media in Sweden. “The climate here in Sweden has toughened considerably. That leads to a new kind of decision.”


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