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Sweden in 'historic' deal on immigration policy

Sweden in 'historic' deal on immigration policy

Published: 03 Mar 2011 09:41 GMT+01:00
Updated: 03 Mar 2011 17:51 GMT+01:00

Sweden's centre-right Alliance government and the Green Party have reached an agreement on changes to the country's immigration policies specifically designed to diminish the influence of the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats.

The four government parties, the Moderates, Christian Democrats, Centre Party, and Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) have forged a comprehensive framework agreement with the Greens which Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt called "historic".

"This lays the long-term groundwork for a humane, just, and orderly migration policy," he said during a Thursday morning press conference.

He added that the agreement means that Sweden has made a clear choice about where the country's migration policies are heading.

"We're going to continue on the road toward humanity and order, this is a choice which closes the door on xenophobic forces," said Reinfeldt.

Among other things, the agreement will give illegal immigrants the right to healthcare and education.

The parties agree that there is a problem with the identification demands placed on people looking to reunite with their relatives who have immigrated to Sweden, the Green Party's Mikaela Valtersson said.

Families from Somalia, for example, have a hard time reuniting due to the lack of official documentation about their identity.

The various options for confirming someone's identity will be improved, with one option being the use of DNA matching technologies.

The new agreement may cost up to 1.7 billion kronor ($267 million) and will have "significant effects on public finances", although it remains difficult to give an exact cost before knowing how many illegal immigrants that will be starting school and are in need medical care.

Some estimates put the number of school-age undocumented children with the right to attend school at 3,000-4,000.

“That number is uncertain and many of those children are already studying,” said education minister Jan Björklund, adding that the new rules will likely be in place by the autumn term of 2012.

Sweden also plans to launch an independent migration research institute.

Centre Party leaders Maud Olofsson pointed to the importance of combining migration and labour policies, citing an ongoing inquiry into circular migration which is led by Valtersson.

"Today it's getting a job that matters, but regardless of whether or not someone has a job or starts their own company, people should have the ability to come to Sweden and contribute," said Olofsson.

"See these people as help for building Sweden."

Reinfeldt explained that he used the expression "close the door" in explicit reference to Sweden Democrats, a far-right party which gained seats in the Riksdag for the first time in September campaigning on an openly anti-immigration platform.

"We who believe that people should be free to move across borders and seek a better life somewhere else have made this agreement," he said.

"We're closing the door on the only area they [the Sweden Democrats] care about and want to have influence on."

In a statement, Christian Democrat leader and social affairs minister Göran Hägglund said the agreement created a "stable majority in the Riksdag" and "ensured that the Sweden Democrats won't have any influence over immigration policy moving forward".

According to the Green Party's Maria Wetterstrand, the most important thing is that Sweden is no longer among countries that degrade their asylum and immigration policies following the entry of a xenophobic party into parliament.

"Because the government chose the Green Party, policies are moving away from the Sweden Democrats," she said.

But Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson believes the new agreement will have the opposite effect, giving Sweden an even more extreme immigration policy, something which he expects will benefit his party.

"We are getting yet another debate which will benefit us in the long run. The question is whether there is a popular mandate for these policies. I don’t think there is," he told TT.

Åkesson added that it’s regrettable the government chose to work with the Greens, labeling the party one of the most extreme when it comes to immigration policies in that it wants unrestricted immigration.

“It will cost between one and two billion kronor, money that should be spent on other things,” said Åkesson.

An inquiry into healthcare for illegal immigrants is expected to be completed in May, at which time proposals will be presented about what rules will apply.

“People are however not supposed to come here for healthcare; this is for people who are already here”, said Hägglund.

Reinfeldt explained that the Social Democrats and the Left Party were not part of the agreement due to different views on the subject of labour migration.

“This agreement is very much in line with our pro-work policies and therefore it’s not possible for the Social Democrats and the Left to cooperate. My impression is that the Social Democrats have been against people coming here to find work. Work is essential to me,” he said.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:44 March 3, 2011 by johnny1939
HA they better be very careful in what they do w/ the SD it might work in the opposite direction. I think the application of DNA to establish relationships between parties is an excellent idea.
10:47 March 3, 2011 by Luckystrike
" He added that the agreement means that Sweden has made a clear choice about where the country's migration policies are heading. "

Sweden? I dont think so.
10:52 March 3, 2011 by hpunlimited
Giving free medical care to illegal immigrants is rewarding criminal activity.

Also what are the consequences? Basically that anyone in the world can use swedish hospitals and schools no matter if they are allowed to be here or not. In fact all you need to do is to travel here as a tourist and get free medical care and free education. Congrats to 6 billion people of the world.Send all your sick people and kids here!! Who pays for it? Swedish tax payers!!!!!!! Someone in the government must be smoking dope!
10:58 March 3, 2011 by SweAbroad
Great start! Now we want to see active policies to support immigration of highly skilled workers and for students with academic degrees taken in Sweden to be able to stay after getting their degree too.

Sweden needs highly skilled workers more than anything!

11:23 March 3, 2011 by just a question
Do you expect this Government to help high educated immigrants, European students or skilled workers? Because they are not going to help them. Their purpose is only to introduce division in society and make the rich more rich, and the middle class even more poor. In 20 years, Sweden will be like any European country: a divided and poor society with no idea about the direction of its future or its economy
12:06 March 3, 2011 by hammad674
Don't really understand What the Swedish Government want, Whether they are looking to give relief to Swedish Tax Payers or they wish to populate Sweden with immigrants (doesn't matter legal , Illegal). At one side, they have almost halted Non-EU International Students by fee, which were still Educated, were not a burden at Kommuns (in shape of monthly fund) and not really found in illegal activities.

On the other hand, Importing tons of relatively Uneducated and illegal immigrants to Sweden with supporting of Kommuns funding.

They really need to look closely their objectives and make plans accordingly.
12:08 March 3, 2011 by underskyofsweden
Facilitating the working conditions and supporting the people who are well-educated in Sweden and are intended to be a active part of the society ,should be placed first in the queue. It more helps Sweden to be more productive and proactive.
12:19 March 3, 2011 by Roy E
The commitment to murder-suicide is most impressive - in negative sense, of course.
12:23 March 3, 2011 by blursd
So, tell me what exactly is my incentive to immigrate LEGALLY to Sweden ...?

Sounds to me like I can save myself years of fees, forms, bureaucracy, and the headaches of actually following the rules, and still get everything I want ... AND not a damn thing is going to happen to me.

Genius Sweden ... just genius.
12:48 March 3, 2011 by truthworthy
Excellent News. This is the way forward, no place for xenophobes in modern society.
12:52 March 3, 2011 by calebian22
"ensured that the Sweden Democrats won't have any influence over immigration policy moving forward". Hägglund doesn't seem to realize that there are elections every 4 years. The future is looking up for the Sweden Democrats! 15 percent next time around with proposals like this.
13:05 March 3, 2011 by Nemesis
That should get the Sweden Democrats more votes next time.

Why don't the parties admit it?

They are doing everything they can to ensure future support of the Sweden Democrats.
13:09 March 3, 2011 by RobinHood
Shouldn't imigration policy be founded on what is good for Sweden, rather than what is bad for the Sweden Democrats?

There's an awful lot of rhetoric about how much the SD's aren't going to like this. But very little explanation why allowing criminals to start their own companies and get free healthcare will benefit Swedish society. I would like to hear less of the former, and more of the later.
13:35 March 3, 2011 by hpunlimited
I think that this is a huge slap in the face to LEGAL immigrants that try to follow Swedish laws. Why bother filing papers?

Another theory is that Sweden needs CHEAP labor, illegals can be paid very little and Sweden could start competing with China and India again!!

For instance...

USA has over 12 million illegal immigrants and the government won't do anything about it because their economy would be ruined without CHEAP illegal labor that is fueling American businesses across the nation. Without that many illegals in the USA, alot of businesses would move over to China. USA never abolished slavery, they just changed the skin color of the slaves and maybe Reinfelt and Wetterstrand is considering it taking it up :-)
14:08 March 3, 2011 by McChatter
"We who believe that people should be free to move across borders and seek a better life somewhere else have made this agreement," .

Great news for the Swedish building industry!! Guaranteed work for the next 50 years at least. Or do the 'newcomers' have to build their own houses?
15:02 March 3, 2011 by Roy E
It appears that the government's goal is create a new Lebanon on the Baltic - minus the sunshine, of course.

Swedes are behaving less like ostriches and more like dodo birds every day as they permit it to happen, the difference being that dodo birds never sent out invitations.
15:12 March 3, 2011 by Swedesmith
I'm sure that the Swedish government has a plan to create jobs for all the unskilled immigrants that will be flooding in.
15:24 March 3, 2011 by zircon
Some hope for me then.
15:27 March 3, 2011 by saar
Seems like Sweden Democrats in Riksdag is not a bad thing after all. Heh.
15:43 March 3, 2011 by wolverine2k
Good one Fredrik. Next election the SDs will be in majority. Jimmie must be laughing his ass off with this announcement!
15:46 March 3, 2011 by Taxlady
Great...next election will vote for the Swedish democrats! Illegals having their own firms! Free health care while the rest of us will have to pay over 2000 SEK for them to get it for free.

What garbage policies.
15:53 March 3, 2011 by buschmann
I,m not sure what this means. Does this mean an increase in immigration from outside of europe, or does it mean maintaing the status qou?
16:40 March 3, 2011 by soultraveler3
Lol, how can there be so many idiots in this government?!?!

This new policy will INCREASE SD support not decrease it.

It's going to cause even more strain on taxpayers in Sweden and make the social services even worse than they already are. It's going to make the already very difficult work / job situation even worse. It's going to make the tension between immigrants and native swedes even worse.

Way to go morons. SD will probably get 25% of the vote next election. When will the learn that they can treat their elected positions as if it was a popularity contest in highschool? They can't shun and refuse to interact with other elected officals just because they don't agree with their policies.

Sweden just took another step down the drain.
17:05 March 3, 2011 by truthworthy
It is crazy that American and other foreign xenophobes on this website are threatening that elections will be held in 4 years and SD will be more popular. did you forgot guys that you can't participate in the elections? you are foreign yourselves. So calm down. this is Sweden not USA or UK.

SD will disappear in the next election just like that other party in 90s.
17:42 March 3, 2011 by calebian22
Trustworthy, I live in Sweden. I am American. I will be able to vote next time around. So, stick that one in your pipe and smoke it.
18:17 March 3, 2011 by nic_tester
Interesting, our goverment just speeded up our march towards civil war with a few years. Wether that is good or bad depends on your objectives i guess. In a sense i would apreciate if the people that caused it were still alive when it happens, so in that sense this is good news.
18:20 March 3, 2011 by buschmann
Is the timing of the decision a coincident or is it related to the recent conflicts in north africa?
18:25 March 3, 2011 by Njal
"We who believe that people should be free to move across borders and seek a better life somewhere else have made this agreement,"

World government, here we come!
18:34 March 3, 2011 by PaulTheOctopus
what just had happened... so they are making it easier for newcomers from Libya..
19:35 March 3, 2011 by Ravioli
'Shouldn't imigration policy be founded on what is good for Sweden, rather than what is bad for the Sweden Democrats?'

My thoughts exactly. This, on its face, is an idiotic way of conducting government and it will backfire on them in a huge way. It should be pretty interesting after SD doubles (at least) its representation in Riksdagen next election and finds ways to get revenge for this obvious ignorance of what the Swedish electorate wants.

Gotta commend these parties for coming together in an attempt to destroy their own country. It's an awesome display of national suicide.

@ truthworthy-

Xenophobes, huh? Care to share your opinion of gays with the group? How about Jews? How about non-Muslims? Yeah, that's what I thought.
20:17 March 3, 2011 by locaxy
Great move! Finally a country has the balls to stop caring about this victimless crimes and treat everybody the same (regardless of what your name is or where you randomly happened to be born).

A side effect will be the crumbling of the Ponzi scheme that is socialized healthcare and education.

Now...if only Sweden did something about drugs and prostitution, it may go down in history as the most progressive country ever!
20:34 March 3, 2011 by superturbo
This government is sick. Why the hell should criminals get awarded resident permits free benefits from the tax payers? Politicians should stop fooling around with other peoples money in this way.
20:42 March 3, 2011 by paok21
thanks for posting this information..i really like it!

asbestos lung cancer
21:08 March 3, 2011 by Nora
Dear Fredrik Reinfeldt,

Would you please add an amendment to the laws in order to enable foreign PhD students in Sweden to get a work permit instead of the student permit?! Yes, they are employed by universities (with the same conditions as working for a company) AND are paying full tax.

This will act as an incentive to keep few hundred educated people in Sweden (rather than sending them to US or Canada after their studies) and definitely helps to

"See these people as help for building Sweden."
21:17 March 3, 2011 by mojofat
I had the same thought about why should I go through all the headaches of being here legally when I can just do nothing, and apparently it's all the same.

A big part of the problem, in my view, is that Sweden is not a multicultural society. It has a history of homogeneity...white, blue eyes, blonde hair. Maybe cliche, there are some green-eyed brunettes, but about as white as the snow up here. With its own language, customs, and aversions to outsiders. This is not the makings of a society that is going to successfully integrate people very different from themselves. And I don't say any of this is a bad thing, it's just the way it is.

BTW, really bad timing to put out the notice that healthcare costs are going up 2000sek.
21:24 March 3, 2011 by technoviking
I was on the fence before but this certainly has been the deciding factor for me. I'm voting SD next time.

This is insanity. They are bascially saying the borders are open for any person to invade and not only get away with it, but you will be REWARDED for it.

So, now those who would never have a chance immigrating anywhere else, criminals, unskilled illiterates, radical Islamists, can simply sneak across the Swedish border and live in a socialist "paradise" for FREE, basically legally.

Someone explain to me how this makes any sense?
22:03 March 3, 2011 by countrysidedrive
If Swedes only procreated more then big business who controls Sweden would not need immigrants to immigrate to Sweden. If Swedes had 4 or more kids per family and didn't all leave to other lands when they grew up this would not be a issue. Sweden would then be for Swedes, but unfortunately Swedes dont want to stay or have more than one or two kids.
22:06 March 3, 2011 by Ravioli
It makes sense if one is trying to turn Sweden into Somalia.
22:15 March 3, 2011 by Swedesmith
Look at the bright side. Think how cheap it will be to get someone to mow your lawn.
22:18 March 3, 2011 by Smiling Canuk
Sweden should brace themselves for an huge influx of illegal immigrants. Why even bother having an immigration policy if anybody can simply move there and get free medical and education. Talk about giving away the ranch.
22:40 March 3, 2011 by Uncle
@ truthworthy

"Excellent News. This is the way forward, no place for xenophobes in modern society. "

Yep - truthworthy finds only place for suicide bombers, girl castrations, pedophile marriages, minorities execution, honor killings and car burning in modern society. And the more - the merrier!
22:48 March 3, 2011 by samwise
So the SD officially dictates the agenda now, whatever they want to do, the other parties will team up to block. I'm not sure they are elected to marginalize a particular party. It's getting sillier everyday.
23:32 March 3, 2011 by Morenikeji
This is simply a charade. I'm surprised that the Green Party fell for it. It is either they are planning to use the scheme to lure out illegal immigrants for easy deportation or to create jobs for redundant teachers and hopeless administrators. Much as I hate to admit it I think Jimmie Åkesson's assesment of this deal is correct.
23:42 March 3, 2011 by expatjourno
Yes, what we need is more phony "refugees" to skip over all the perfectly safe countries in Europe that have less generous social welfare policies and come here! Yay! Sweden for the Somalis! Let's have more female genital mutilation and honor killings in Sweden!

This is a deliberate policy to destroy the welfare state by simultaneously overloading it and eviscerating political support for it.

Reinfeldt is supposed to be such a smart guy, but he just convinced me to vote for the Sweden Democrats.
00:02 March 4, 2011 by Takai
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are all familiar - through own experience or History itself - that for some governments it is hard to take certain political decisions. It has a formula, it was already done before,

Imagine how many national and international critics swedish government would receive by imposing restricting immigration laws, Imagine all the troubles, the hassels, the protests.

Easier if it is done by elections, in a fair and right way, by its own people.

Like some of you already realized, Jimmie is corect in his predictions:

"But Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson believes the new agreement will have the opposite effect, giving Sweden an even more extreme."immigration policy, something which he expects will benefit his party."

Thank you. No trolls. Exchange of knowledge in order to develop our opinions.
03:52 March 4, 2011 by expatjourno
Time to move to Norway. The Norwegians aren't stupid.
04:36 March 4, 2011 by ajs42548
Is there such a thing as stock in Sweden itself? If there is, I would love to sell short thousands of shares of it. I've always wanted to be rich.
07:15 March 4, 2011 by imonx
Immigration is easier in Norway look before you jump
14:39 March 4, 2011 by Rebel
Voted for the little bald dude in the last election -- won't make that mistake next time.
15:29 March 4, 2011 by buahaha
It is good to have healthy people instead of sick people in society. It is good to give chance to illegal immigrants, who succeeded to make money even in so bad position, to start a business and make their position better in society (at least they will pay taxes when they make legal business and they will pay health insurance for themselves). Beside it, it is better to have educated immigrants than to push them to be criminal. Fascist politics produce criminality: no education, no doctor, no work, so what immigrant will do? He will attack me or you on the street for money, the same as domestic junkie. But fascists like when they have chance to put finger on immigrants and they don't care really for victims, if they care, they will let immigrants to work instead to attack for money.

Problem is: where to complain if immigrant didn't get access to doctor? Medicine sisters (axes acute, Gothenburg) refuse asylum seekers even they don't have right to do it so what to say about illegal people? As I know, there were articles about dead asylum seekers because of refusing by doctors and illegals are even in worst position than asylum seekers. Problem is that medical workers are not educated about human rights than they think it is their job to save money for the state. administrative workers of hospitals should be separated from doctors and medicine sisters. It is job only of admin workers to care about finances, it should be forbidden for doctors and med.sisters to take care about it. and immigrants should have some institution where they can make complaints, as I know Ombudsman don't take anonymous complaints.
16:25 March 4, 2011 by Uncle
What SD should do is to be the first ones to propagade open borders with the entire muslim world, building mosques in any town in Sweden, encourage execution of anyone who talks about Mohammad with anything, but reverence and declaring anyone who manages to step on Swedish soil - a swedish citizen.

The other parties will be so busy opposing SD, that they will shut the borders immediately and kick out anyone who is defined as illegal immigrant.
21:20 March 4, 2011 by technoviking
@ buahaha

Yes, immigrants have somewhere they can go complain. THEIR OWN COUNTRIES.

Illegal immigrants are ILLEGAL. They are criminals violating the sovereignty of another country. They have no rights or recourse in the system other then a one way escort out.

But why should you respect Swedish sovereignty when the Swedish government doesn't either? Understandable I guess.
05:18 March 5, 2011 by Britt-Marie7
Well, I know whom I am going to vote for next time around, SD! Is Sweden so well off economically that they can afford for the taxpayers to pay for all the illegals entering Sweden for the free stuff? Don't we already pay extremely high taxes? How can that be OK with everyone?
17:22 March 5, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
For all those claiming they will vote SD next time I wonder if it will matter. If the Local's article is correct there are several billion people on planet Earth who would be much better off materially by simply getting to Sweden. If only 10 or 20 million of them make it they will *be* the country by the time the next election rolls around. If I was Mexican or Somalian or Egyptian I'd be on the boat headed to free housing health and education and to sort out those silly Swedes on their Weltanschauung. Take pictures of the blond folk as in 20 years there won't be any left and the pictures may have value on ebay.

Values have consequences and wealth is produced by a group or nation by righteousness and lost by evil. Claiming that there are no consequences to group behaviour is a tired PC lie that may well be coming home to roost.
22:07 March 5, 2011 by Procons
It amaizes me that Sweden had not had this policy in effect. We here in Canada assumed that this same idiotic policy that exists here was due to our keeping up with the progressive socialist states. Guess we were wrong. At least now we can maybe divert the boat loads of illigles to Sweden. A big mistake folks. Learn from history.
15:12 March 7, 2011 by imz1
when will this policy apply ??
09:04 March 9, 2011 by Thomas Dolby
Yes, an Historic end to Sweden as We once knew it...

Tusen Tack Reinfeldt : )

2014 is starting to look Very Positive Indeed : )

Welcome Swedish Democrats, Welcome : )
23:44 March 9, 2011 by dan_sparrow
1.7 billion kronor...

why not in health care, that hospitals are worst than in south america, or in schools?

DNA tests to identify relatives of fuggies? whats next to build houses for them?


his country is a joke
15:41 March 12, 2011 by mieoux
People are a resource, they are potential customers and tax-payers, help them become customers and tax-payers. The more people who can buy your widgets the more widgets you yourself will be able to buy. Do they not teach economics in all high schools in Sweden? I am starting to think this might be the case.

The world has become global, and if you can't join the global economy you will simply face decline as the world moves on.

Societies that cannot adapt with changing world conditions end. Europe is stiff, that's why it's having problems, but this will change due to pressure from international economics - change or fail. US, India and surprisingly China change quite rapidly, yet China is a thousands years old civilization, it's not ending it's growing and adapting. With these countries if you go away for some years and you will come back to completely different people yet they are still distinct cultures - Chinese culture is still Chinese culture even though it's very different today from what it was even just 20 years ago, it did not suddenly change into another country's culture. More importantly, even as these countries change they also export their cultures and change other people, but those people also remain distinct even with these changes. Cultures that are adaptive don't die they just grow and spread beyond their borders. When you cannot adapt to the outside world, that is when you fail, both as a society and as an individual. Swedes should stop being so fearful and trying to stunt the growth and development of their culture and country. You can't stop the changes wrote by time, and generally time wins, go along with it. Trust Swedish culture to be more resilient and allow it to be flexible. People in other countries are eating meatballs.
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