Billström, who is leading a Moderate Party working group tasked with reviewing Sweden’s immigration policies said at the weekend that his group would devote “a lot of time” discussing “how we can affect the volumes of those who come to Sweden”.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, however, Reinfeldt disagreed with Billström’s framing of the party’s policy review.
“That can’t be the starting point,” said Reinfeldt in reference to the migration minister’s comments.
“Immigration enriches Sweden. It’s a very important value that people can come to Sweden, and that’s meant a lot for Sweden’s development.”
He went on to say that the Moderates don’t think there needs to be a reduction in the number of asylum seekers and immigrants who come to Sweden to be reunited with family.
“In the party governing board’s orders to this working group, we don’t talk like that. Immigration enriches Sweden and a party like the Moderates that is responsible for governing strives to be a balanced voice between those who never see any problems and those who never see other people,” said Reinfeldt.
He explained further that Billström’s comments should be seen in light of a recent spike in asylum seekers from the Balkans who come to Sweden after being tricked into believing they will receive asylum there.
Reinfeldt explained that the party plans to look carefully at Sweden’s system for dealing with refugees and immigrants when they arrive.
“What we’re concerned about is when so many come in a short period of time, and from countries where they haven’t come from previously, which leads to a risk that our reception system won’t work properly,” he said.
If new arrivals don’t get off on the right foot, he added, it then becomes harder for them to manage enrolling in school, finding a job, and becoming a part of Swedish society.