"Now the only possibility is to smuggle my family"
For the fourth night in a row, asylum seekers slept in Johanneskyrkan, a church in Malmö, and the government's announcement Tuesday of measures to tighten up Sweden's policy on accepting refugees, stirred strong reactions among them.
"I can't stay here without my family," Mahmoud told Swedish Radio News. Once he had gotten residency in Sweden, his plan had been to bring his wife and four children, who are living in a tent in Aleppo, over to Sweden via legal means. But if he cannot bring his family here, he said he will return to Syria, despite the war there.
After the red-green government's announcement on Tuesday, Mahmoud will probably not be able to bring his family to Sweden, even if he gets a temporary residence permit.
Another Syrian, who has been in Sweden for longer, Ehab Al Jaby, also wants to bring his family to Sweden, but he said it will be harder now.
"Now the only possibility is to smuggle my family," he said.
One refugee named Mohammad, who will soon turn 19, fled Wardak province in Afghanistan and eventually made his way to Malmö via the train over the Öresund bridge from Denmark. He said that he wouldn't have been able to do that if the new rules had been in effect then, because he was forced to throw all his posessions overboard while on the boat from Turkey to Greece, in order to stay alive, and his documents wound up in the water, too.
But Mohammad doesn't believe the ID checks will be what prevents other young Afghan men from fleeing to Sweden. Instead, he says the conditions in Malmö, where people are forced to sleep outside or in the church, will be what deter them.
As far as when the new rules will start to impact asylum seekers, Morgan Johansson, the Justice and Migration Minister, told Radio Sweden that in general, the legislation that is in effect when an asylum seeker's application is tried is what will be used to determine the outcome of their case.
"For everyone who is coming to Sweden from now on, their applications will be tried according to the new rules," he said.
But there will be a transition period, he explained, so that children or families with children who are already in Sweden and had applied for asylum up until yesterday will have their cases tried by the old rules.
The government expects that the rules will formally come into force at the end of April 2016, but in practice, they will affect most of the refugees who arrived to Sweden this fall. This is because the Migration Agency, due to its heavy workload, will likely not get around to trying those applications until the new law goes into effect.