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New bill gets tough on refugee-shy towns

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New bill gets tough on refugee-shy towns
08:11 CEST+02:00
Swedish municipalities will be forced to welcome underage asylum seekers who come to Sweden without parents or guardians from January onward, if the government gets its way.

"There are quite simply too many children that have to wait too long to get a place, because there aren't enough places in the system," Migration Minister Tobias Billström told the TT news agency.

"That's because too few municipalities have offered places to the Migration Board (Migrationsverket)."

He has put forward a new proposal together with the Green Party, which has a special arrangement with the centre-right Alliance coalition government to legislate on migration policy.

The new proposal would mean that the Migration Board gets to decide where the asylum seekers live. The municipalities would not be able to appeal.

Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) did not welcome the new proposal.

"We think we could find a voluntary solution, as long as conditions are right," said SALAR spokesman Per-Arne Andersson, who addedd that many municipalties do not have the professional resources to care for the young asylum seekers.

The idea to force reticent municipalities to pitch in has long been on the table. Many local politicians have protested that it is simply too costly to care for young immigrants, especially when they need more support in school. Others have said they were open to reform, but only if the central state helped pay the tab.

Lars-Ingvar Ljungman, Moderate Party municipal head in Vellinge, southern Sweden, said that voluntary solutions were preferable. Ljungman also advocated that the government look over the compensation system.

"I know that many municipalities say they don't get all their expenses covered," he told TT.

In 2005, Sweden received about 500 applications from underage asylum seekers. For 2013, the authorities estimate that they will process 4,000 cases in total.

TT/The Local/at

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