Christian Democrats want to cut asylum costs
The centre-right Christian Democrats proposed widespread changes in Swedish immigration politics to lower the costs of immigration today.
Among the suggestions on how to address the costs launched by party leader Göran Hägglund today were lower benefits for asylum seekers, with the hope that people enter the labor market sooner, temporary residence permits instead of the permanent permits that some refugees get today, and fast tracking applicants from so-called "safe" countries, which will likely get turned down anyway.
The party also wants to introduce a tax break for newly-arrived asylum seekers, meaning they would not have to pay income tax for the first five years if they earn less than SEK 100,000 annually.
Immigration has been a hot button issue in Swedish politics, not the least in the recent elections and budget chaos, with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrat party holding the balance of power.
Emma Henriksson is parliamentary group leader for the Christian Democrats, the smallest of the four centre-right opposition parties.
"We are hoping that if our suggestions take effect they will lead to people granted asylum in Sweden more quickly entering the labor market," Henriksson told Radio Sweden.
However, Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has criticized the proposals, he told news agency TT: "It's the wrong way of looking at it to think that refugees coming here are happy with sitting around and getting SEK 5,000 - 6,000 a month, not wanting to work and pay their way. Our job is to make sure they can get jobs", he said. He added that he was worried that starting a debate about immigration ahead of the next election could play into the hands of the nationalist Sweden Democrats.