Once seen as the most accepting country in the world for refugees, the right-wing Swedish government, elected on a promise to curb immigration, is now enacting reforms to encourage migrants to return to their country of origin.
To accomplish this, the government in Stockholm, together with the Swedish Democrats who support the coalition but are not formally part of the government, is increasing the financial support migrants can receive if they return home voluntarily.
“We are targeting the large number of groups that arrived in the past decades and failed to integrate,” said the migration minister of the Moderate Party, Maria Malmer, to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
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Malmer said that they will make sure that everyone who wants support to leave Sweden permanently will get the financial means to make this possible.
In the Scandinavian country, it was already possible for migrants to apply for repatriation support if they decided to return to their home country. However, the program was not popular. In the last 10 years, a total of only 46 immigrants asked the immigration office for money to return to their country of origin, and eight of them have since returned to Sweden.
Currently, a family with a residence permit and protection status who wants to return to their country, if all conditions are met, can receive a “travel” grant of up to 40,000 Swedish kronor (€3,500). The government is now looking to substantially increase this amount to encourage more migrants to sign up.
The plan came about after the Swedish immigration office was given the task of analyzing how to get more people to voluntarily move back to their home country. Sweden’s plan is not unique, as Denmark, known for its restrictive approach to immigration, is already applying the model — so far with more success. In the last 10 years, 300 to 500 migrants have left Denmark every year, receiving a significant amount of financial support for this purpose.
The question now is whether increased financial incentives will encourage more migrants to leave Sweden. A substantial challenge may be due to the fact that Sweden offers extraordinarily generous benefits to migrants, even those subject to deportation orders, which decreases the incentive to leave the country.
Stockholm’s new government is, nevertheless, attempting to follow the example of the Visegrád countries and Austria: and the government is signaling it wants to pursue a policy designed to curb immigration.
As Remix News has previously reported, Swedes have conducted a sharp U-turn on the question of immigration in recent years due to soaring crime, cultural clashes, and fears over changing demographics.