Migration Agency backtracks over deportation order for 6-year-old legal orphan

Sweden's Migration Agency has backtracked over the deportation of a six-year-old boy to Ukraine, with the agency admitting it made the decision "too quickly".

Migration Agency backtracks over deportation order for 6-year-old legal orphan
File photo of a Migration Agency office. Photo: Adam Wrafter/SvD/TT

The boy and his mother first applied for residency in Sweden in April 2015 after arriving when the child was only two years old. The Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) denied their request, a decision upheld later by the Migration Court.

Earlier this year, the boy's mother died suddenly, but the child was still ordered to leave the country and return to Ukraine, despite attending a preschool class in Sweden and living with his maternal grandparents in Uppsala, north of Stockholm.

The couple have also begun procedures to formally adopt their grandson, according to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet which cited the boy's current god man, a term which refers to the person who assists a person in their dealings with authorities, but does not have responsibilities such as housing or feeding the child.

The god man further said that the boy's father had refused custody, which had been confirmed in court, leaving the boy legally orphaned.

The decision to deport the boy to Ukraine was controversial, prompting debate in Sweden and tens of thousands of people signed a petition calling for him to be allowed to stay. Politicians and other public figures have spoken out for the boy.

When asked by the TT newswire if the agency had made a mistake, the authority's press manager Per Ek said: “We came to a decision too quickly.”

Migrationsverket has said there are several circumstances which require closer investigation, and that it now plans to carry out these measures.

In order for a child with no guardian to be deported, the child must have someone in their home country who has agreed to care for them there. This can be relatives, or other people willing and able to act as the child's guardian.

“It is these aspects that we are going to need to investigate further, as well as the alternatives in Sweden. In the case of the boy, a deportation decision was taken before a possibility of a legal guardian was sufficiently investigated,” Ek explained.

While this doesn't mean the earlier decision has been overturned just yet, the deportation order will be halted while the Migration Agency looks into these details. 

The boy's god man in Sweden said the boy and his grandparents were pleased at the latest development. “Now he's heard that he can stay and he's really happy. He's dancing and laughing. You can see that it's really positive for him,” she told Aftonbladet.

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