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Work must come before reunification: minister

Published: 03 Dec 2012 17:05 GMT+01:00

Two years ago, a law came into force requiring immigrants to have a job and somewhere to live before applying to have their families follow them to Sweden.

In 2011, 366 applications by immigrants to join a family member in Sweden were rejected because the person in question was not working.

By 2011, less than half that number were rejected, reports political newspaper Riksdag & Department (RoD) after looking at Migration Board">Migration Board (Migrationsverket) figures, something which doesn't sit well with Billström.

”Far too few people are subjected to this requirement if you look at it in relation to the large number of people who come to Sweden through family reunification," he told Sveriges Radio (SR).

"That’s why the self-sufficiency requirement should be thoroughly examined."

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt stood behind his minister on Monday.

“Tobias Billström feels that exceptions to the law have become too widespread,” Reinfeldt told the TT news agency.

But other members of the government coalition think the exceptions were made for good reason.

“People who are issued an exception to the rules are mostly minors. They have been living in the very situation from which their parents fled,” Christian Democrat MP Emma Henriksson, who sits on the parliamentary committee on social security, told TT.

"We’re talking about Somalia but also Syria.

"It is important to us that we don’t propagate policies that keep families apart. Parents and children should be together.”

The government says the law was meant to provide an incentive for immigrants to find work, a claim Reinfeldt reiterated on Monday.

"We think it’s important that immigrants are included in our labour policy. It is also a way for Sweden to prepare for the many relatives we are expecting,” said Reinfeldt.

Earlier this year, Sweden scrapped a requirement that Somali immigrants show documentation to prove family ties. The government instead opened the door for DNA testing.

"Somalis are one example,” Reinfeldt said.

"But in general this is related to our high level of asylum seekers. And it will apply to unaccompanied refugee minors who at a later date want their families to follow.”

The prime minister seemed aware that his Billström might face some opposition for his call to make it hard to claim an exception to self-sufficiency requirements.

“We have to discuss this with our coalition partners and also, further on, with the Green Party,” Reinfeldt told the TT news agency.

After the last election, the centre-right Alliance government struck a deal with the opposition Green Party on immigration policy

The agreement was a way to exclude the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats from having any chance to vote against the minority government in parliament on issues related to immigration policy.

The deal with the Green Party has already forced the government to make certain compromises.

Green Party migration policy spokeswoman Maria Ferm said on Monday that her party would not get involved in changing the current reunification rules.

“It is a human right to be reunited with your family if you have escaped war or conflict,” she told TT.

She also said the proposal could damage Sweden’s efforts to help newly-arrived immigrants integrate.

"It’s counter-productive. If people have to worry constantly about their family and whether they are alive or dead, it is difficult to get into a new society, learn a new language and find a job," said Ferm.

TT/The Local/at

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Your comments about this article

19:26 December 3, 2012 by intrepidfox
"It is important to us that we don't propagate policies that keep families apart. Parents and children should be together."

What sort of parents flees a country and leaves their children behind ?
19:52 December 3, 2012 by J Jack
He's right, the first needs to support the second. One needs a legitimate job or income source to do this.
20:23 December 3, 2012 by riose
@intrepidfox

The sort that likes his children to eat every day.

They send all the money they can spare to their families.

What kind of bubble are you living in to not know that?
20:35 December 3, 2012 by godnatt
It takes time but sanity seems to be prevailing slowly but surely over here...

Nice work Mr. Billström.
20:55 December 3, 2012 by RobinHood
The Sweden Democrats soar in the polls, and suddenly their policies are actually OK after all.
21:22 December 3, 2012 by CanadianEh
You really want to control immigration in Sweden. Prioritize how many refugees you accept annually, because realistically Sweden does not have the resources to integrate refugees. Immigrants on the other hand came he paying a fee waiting in line etc etc. so this debate about immigration is not really a debate.

The main idea is to control the amount of refugees accepted and actually have the resources to help them. Until these close minded individuals start understanding the difference between and immigrant and a refugee then policies will never change in this country.

So wake up an actually stop being the refugee basket for the rest of Europe because your system sucks and it will always suck because things here are done to slow and everybody is looking out for themselves and not the majority.
21:38 December 3, 2012 by Keith #5083
Sweden has a fine tradition of humanitarian assistance. One of which it should be justifiably proud.

I know personally people who came from Vietnam,Kosovo, Lebanon,etc.,leaving war-torn homelands to come to a strange country.The help and assistance they received was mostly greeted with sincere and honourable gratitude and repaid with reasonable levels of integration..

I am aware that some,as in all societies, abuse 'the system'. That, however,is no reason to condemn all.

This having been said, there is a vast difference between refugees from war' and 'economic refugees'.

There is nothing offensive in requiring that a person has a job to support applications for his family to join him/her.Most 'genuine' migrants would not have it any other way.
21:47 December 3, 2012 by jostein
I think many of us voted for these creatures 2006, believing they would put a stop to the insanity and then continue to rule the country in a normal and responsible fashion.

Who would have thought they had turned into cultural marxist fanatics? It simply came out of the blue. At least to those of us that were not so extremely interested in swedish party politics at that time.

Fool me once..
00:54 December 4, 2012 by Svensksmith
@riose

Yeah, I like to make sure my children eat daily. That's why I have a job and go to work everyday.
03:51 December 4, 2012 by fareasttiger
I now firmly believe that most swedes don't like their own people, that's why they will not rest until the have destoyed themselves completely. How else can anyone explain this madness? Common sense is not so common, and that is very true in every sense. My prediction, that the SD will get 20% in 2014, and I can not say that im sad. The enemy of my....?
08:41 December 4, 2012 by bluerain303
I can not agree more!
11:18 December 4, 2012 by riose
@Svensksmith

Quoting the first comment:

"What sort of parents flees a 'house to work' and leaves their children behind ? "
12:41 December 4, 2012 by NyDag
@ riose

He said country, learn to read please. He has a point too, what kind of parents WOULD flee a country and leave their children behind?
14:08 December 4, 2012 by 78294624673872845638392938
riose, that is the dumbest thing I have ever read. The sad part is you probably think you're being clever or something.
02:20 December 5, 2012 by Natour
Swedish migration board don't believe in the importance of family reunification, they previously split families and they are still doing this under unreasonable reasons, some employees there can't understand that other countries are not like Sweden and a decision that was made without enough investigation can destroy a family and deny the kids from their basic rights and living a normal life.

Even though suggested law seems logical if the unemployment rates is lower and there are more job opportunities.
06:52 December 5, 2012 by sootysmum
How come the government is so concerned about immigrants that they forget to look after their own citizens. Almost all rapes are committed by Muslims and the numbers have gone up dramatically. The ministers now need police protection as they have been attacked by Muslims. And, what about the Jews being forced out of their own homes to become refugees elsewhere?

Yes, the government should consider family life but how about starting at home with their own people?
13:51 December 6, 2012 by GoldieHeart
@intrepidfox : I think what Riose is trying to explain is that there is parents who leave children to relatives, meaning grandparents, aunts, brothers or even separate from their wife/husband and move to another country to work. They do not leave them in the street. The money that they might earn in a developed country like Sweden working as waiters or street cleaners is often enough to provide for whole families back home, their food, medicine and well-being. Ideally they would have their families with them. You will be surprised at the cruel choices people in poverty striken countries have to make in order to SURVIVE.
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