November 21, 2023

Sweden seeks new rules for immigrants’ deportation

Sweden seeks new rules for immigrant deportations

FILE PHOTO: Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson speaks during a news conference in Stockholm, Sweden January 16, 2023. Henrik Montgomery/TT News Agency via REUTERS

Sweden said Tuesday it wanted to introduce new requirements that would allow the deportation of asylum-seekers and immigrants for substance abuse, association with criminal groups or statements threatening Swedish values.

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s minority rightwing government came to power a year ago — with backing from the far-right Sweden Democrats (SD) — vowing to crack down on immigration and crime.

“A prerequisite for successful integration is that people who want to live in Sweden also adhere to basic norms and live in an honest and well-behaved way,” Migration Minister Maria Malmer Stenergard told a press conference held with SD.

Rights groups have yet to comment on the initiative.

Paulina Brandberg, Minister for Gender Equality, told reporters the government would review Swedish legislation to determine if there were specific grounds for revoking residence permits.

However, she listed potential examples of “shortcomings in lifestyles,” including benefits fraud, debt, a dishonest livelihood, substance abuse, as well as association with criminal networks or violent and extremist groups “threatening basic Swedish values”.

Brandberg said the review would also look into “whether it’s possible and appropriate to include statements that seriously threaten basic Swedish democratic values.”

“If there is something other than these democratic values you wish for, or even actively work against what Sweden stands for, then it is simply not here you should live,” Brandberg said.

“A basic principle of Swedish immigration law is that only Swedish citizens have an unconditional right to reside in Sweden,” Ludvig Aspling, migration spokesman for the Sweden Democrats, told reporters.

Former judge Robert Schott was appointed to head the review, which is to report by mid-January 2025.

Speaking to public broadcaster Sveriges Radio, Justice Minister Gunnar Strommer also announced a probe looking at increasing powers on revoking citizenship.

This could entail situations where a person had committed serious crimes, such as terrorism, or cases where a person had either used threats, lies or bribes to obtain citizenship.

In some cases, canceling someone’s Swedish citizenship could render them stateless.

“I myself see no objection to it. But it’s part of a review, and we’ll see what it comes up with,” Strommer told the radio.

Sweden has taken in large numbers of immigrants since the 1990s, primarily from conflict-torn countries including the former Yugoslavia, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iran and Iraq.