Changed asylum laws come under fire

2:48 min

The government's softening of its asylum restrictions has failed to convince critics, who say only slight changes have been made.

On Wednesday Migration Minister Morgan Johansson said bringing in new rules to cut down asylum seekers arriving in Sweden was the toughest thing he had done in his 20 years in politics.

At Stockholm's Swedish Refugee Advice Centre, Erica Molin is not surprised.

"If I was in his position and having made this proposal I would also find it very difficult, because many people will suffer from the legislation, in a way," Molin tells Radio Sweden.

The advice centre is concerned that the government has not set out what problems the high level of asylum immigration is causing, making it hard to decide whether restrictions have worked. The government announced restrictions in November 2015, saying they had been prompted by warnings from the police and from the Migration Agency about the unsustainable number of people seeking refuge.

The general secretary of the Swedish Red Cross says to TT the government has not taken on board much of the criticism and has only made marginal changes.

The proposed law seems to now even lack a majority of the votes in the parliament. A survey by Swedish Radio shows that only the two government parties, the Greens and Social Democrats, support using Sweden's refugee quota for bringing over family members.

The Left Party has firmly rejected the asylum bill entirely, with party leader Jonas Sjöstedt saying to news agency TT that the basic problem remains, of integration being worse and families being split up.

The Sweden Democrat Party, which says Sweden's national identity is threatened by immigration, opposes the latest changes to the asylum bill, and wants Sweden to be stricter than its neighbors in Europe.

The law is planned to run for three years, with an evaluation after two years. But many are worried that the immigration restrictions will be maintained longer, especially if the European Union does not agree on a common refugee reception policy.

At the end of his press conference on Wednesday, Minister Morgan Johannsson says he is proud of what his government is doing.

Erica Molin says Sweden is part of a "race to the bottom" on asylum reception. "I'm not sure it's something to be proud of. How we're handling this," she says.