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Failed asylum seekers may lose benefits

Updated fredag 4 mars 2016 kl 16.23
Published fredag 4 mars 2016 kl 09.29
Justitie- och migrationsminister Morgan Johansson intervjuas. Foto: Claudio Bresciani/TT.
Minister for Justice and Migration Morgan Johansson. File photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT.

The government wants to revoke failed asylum seekers’ right to housing and benefits in order to encourage them to leave the country voluntarily.

"We're doing this because we need the housing for new asylum seekers," Minister for Migration Morgan Johansson told Swedish Radio News.

Abdiqadir, who has been in Sweden for three-and-a-half years, and whose asylum request has been denied, told Radio Sweden that if the allowance of SEK 1,200 per month that he receives from the Swedish Migration Agency were to be withdrawn, that would not encourage him to leave Sweden.

"If they take it away, it won't lead to me to return to the difficult situation I left in Somalia," Abdiqadir said. "I don't think that many others would do it either. We didn't come here for money, we came for safety."

The proposal to cut the benefits for failed asylum seekers is part of an agreement that the government and the Alliance opposition parties made this fall concerning Sweden’s migration and integration policy. The details of the agreement were settled Thursday and now the proposal has been sent to the Council on Legislation. The new rules would apply from June 1st.

Around 4,000 people, half of whom live at refugee homes, would be affected were the legal amendment to go through, reports newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Under the current system, those who avoid contact with the authorities in order not to be deported do not get a daily allowance, and the Migration Agency can also lower the daily allowance for people who otherwise try to thwart deportation. 

The Swedish Migration Agency estimates that 1,200 spots in asylum accomodations will be freed up if the new proposal becomes law, but it also fears that it would encourage more people to go into hiding.

If the proposal goes through, failed asylum seekers who appeal their cases would get an allowance and housing until the migration court makes a final decision on whether to grant them asylum. Adults who live with their children would also continue to receive money until the day they leave the country.

Johan Forsell, the migration policy spokesperson for the conservative Moderate Party, told Dagens Nyheter that the system is currently not working as intended, and that revoking the daily allowance will be an incentive for failed asylum seekers to return home.

"There needs to be a difference between yes and no in the asylum process," Forsell told Dagens Nyheter.

Failed asylum seekers will still be given a set amount of time to leave Sweden freely. Out of the roughly 12,000 people who left in 2015, around a quarter were forcibly deported.

The migration minister believes more people will be forcibly deported this year because since an estimated 32,000 asylum applications will be rejected. Johansson told Dagens Nyheter that Sweden will need to build more detention centers in which to keep failed asylum seekers while they await deportation by the police. 

"In the first instance, it should always happen in a voluntary way. If that doesn't happen, we can consider taking them into custody and carrying out (the deportation) using forceful methods," said Johansson.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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