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Alliance rift over family reunification policy

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Alliance rift over family reunification policy
15:17 CEST+02:00
A requirement that immigrants be able to support themselves before applying to have their families join them in Sweden has led to a rift between coalition partners in the centre-right Alliance government.

Moderate MP Gunnar Axén, who chairs the Riksdag's committee on social insurance, contends that the requirement (försörjningskravet) introduced by the government in 2010 doesn't work properly.

He claims too many recent immigrants are able to claim an exemption to the rule requiring them to have a job and somewhere to live before submitting an application to be reunited with family members in Sweden.

"We therefore conclude that the requirement that people be able to support themselves should cover more people who want to reunite than it does today and that the exception is too broad in its current form," he wrote in an opinion article published in the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

But the Christian Democrats don't want to see the requirement expanded.

"It would be wrong for a lone, underage child to not be reunited with his or her parents for several years because of the requirement to support oneself. It wouldn't improve the parents' chances of finding work or integrating into society. Rather, it would do the opposite," Christian Democrat MP Emma Henriksson told the TT news agency.

According to Axén, less than 1 percent of family reunification cases in 2011 and 2012 were covered by the requirement. He pointed to Migration Board (Migrationsverket) figures, which show that the requirement was enforced 53 times during a period when 15,000 residence permits were granted for reasons of family reunification.

Axén believes people making the application to be reunited with their family should be responsible for supporting newly arrived family members, not taxpayers.

The opposition Social Democrats also panned Axén's proposal.

"A bad idea doesn't get any better by simply repeating it. The most important thing for integration is language, education, jobs, and housing. The government has little to show in these areas, which is the biggest problem that should be debated, rather than these meaningless proposals," the party's migration policy spokesman Fredrik Lundh Sammeli told TT.

TT/The Local/dl

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