Joanna Teglund is a native Pole for the last twelve years working in the Swedish Migration Department. Last November she was interviewed at length by the Polish website Euroislam.pl on the financial and social costs of the huge immigration in Sweden.
Grzegorz Lindenberg, Euroislam.pl: Lately, Swedish politicians stated that immigration is becoming an issue for Sweden.
Joanna Teglund: Concerns about immigration in Sweden were already expressed ten years ago, when twenty to thirty thousand immigrants tried each year to gain asylum, and those who were refused stayed illegally anyway. The government tried to manage this issue secretly. Wikileaks revealed that in 2007 Swedish politicians colluded with Iraq to send back immigrants who illegally entered Sweden between 2003-2007 to escape the war.
Over the last five years, these issues began to grow exponentially, and public dissatisfaction became apparent during the parliamentary election in 2010, when the Sweden Democrats, a political party advocating a more restrictive policy on immigration in Sweden, for the first time exceeded 4% of electoral threshold, gaining 5.7% of the vote. In the last year’s election, the party got 12.9% of the vote, and in the recent polls it gained almost twice as much. In 2011, when the war broke out in Syria, many Syrian immigrants arrived in Sweden, which in 2013 became the only European country that decided to grant permanent residence to all Syrians.
Moreover, the family reunification laws further contribute to the attractiveness of Sweden as a destination country for migrants. According to this law, immigrants essentially have the right to family reunification as long as they can support their families financially. However, due to statutory exceptions, 99.3% of family members are maintained by the government. This has resulted in a large influx of families with many children, particularly from Somalia. Sweden believes that it has the world’s best immigrant integration program — it is the most expensive program, and which indeed does the most; still, it has the worst results.
Until now, the Swedish media have concealed the problems associated with immigration. All those who tried to describe reality were intimidated and silenced by epithets such as “racist” and “Nazi”. For decades, the only legitimate view was the claim that immigration in Sweden enriches the country. Each report that appeared in the public media, namely the liberal-leftist kind, concluded with such a statement. In fact, immigration was enriching Sweden as long as it was the labour migration, and there were jobs for relatively well-educated refugees from our [European] culture. Until now immigration of doctors or computer programmers has enriched Sweden, but the vast number of illiterates, semi-literates, and those with low levels of education from Third World countries, who will never get a job, is a huge burden.
Only recently — since ten thousand immigrants have been pouring into Sweden every week, and the government, police, customs authorities and Migration Agency have no idea how to manage the issue — has Sweden begun to talk openly about the reality. Unfortunately, it has happened too late. This huge wave of refugees, which at the moment is flooding Sweden, will change this country beyond recognition. How? — At the moment, no one can even imagine. I have an impression that some people, just like small children, are only now beginning to understand that lies have consequences. And in the case of Sweden, these are consequences that will affect several generations.
Is there any special reason to warn the Poles now?
Over the last several weeks, thousands of immigrants have been registered daily in Sweden. The police say that in reality twice as many arrived but did not register. No one knows who these people are and why they do not want to register. Apparently, some of them are going through Sweden to Finland and Norway. If the influx remains at the current level, there will be another 700,000 arriving next year . Last week ten thousand of immigrants arrived, out of which 26.6% said they were Syrians. Nevertheless, the media continued repeating its mantra that victims of the Syrian war are arriving, and that it is not a Swedish crisis but a European one… However, these ten thousand immigrants who arrive weekly are more than it has been recorded in Denmark since the beginning of the year. In relation to the number of native inhabitants, it is more than arrive in Turkey. It is not a European crisis; it is the result of reckless immigration policy in Germany, and especially Sweden.
Sweden ran out of places for immigrants several weeks ago. Youth hostels, hotels and guest houses are full. Migrants are being accommodated in gymnasiums, tents and the corridors of the Migration Agency’s offices. IKEA cannot keep up with supplying mattresses to sleep on. Drivers of coaches for immigrants leaving Malmö are told to drive slowly in an unknown direction so members of the Migration Agency have more time to search for the most recent vacancies in Sweden. It is fascinating and frightening at the same time, how state employees perform this act of liquidation of Sweden with such a humility and devotion. They work day and night, seven days a week, without a word of complaint. Recently, even the King of Sweden has decided to share some of his properties with refugees, including his palaces.
Will they cope with this?
The Swedish government says they will. According to Magdalena Andersson, the finance minister, it is not a matter of finance but finding practical solutions. However, as recently as November 9th, 741 so-called unaccompanied minors arrived in Sweden, which means that 25 school classes and several new schools arrive each day. And the cost of one minor to the state is one million Swedish krona per year (1SEK ≈ €0.11 ≈ $0.118). The government’s response to the current situation is to order an expert report (tillsätt utredning), the results of which should be known by the end of … 2017.
While observing the Polish debate about immigrants, I can see the same emotional arguments by politicians, the negligence of factual coverage in media, and the same division between the left wing, who are good and want to open people’s hearts, open the boarders — ‘we have a place and we have to deal with this fear of the stranger’ — and the liberal conservatives, the bad ones, who want to control and count. It is a discussion between good or evil, rather than adults discussing an issue which will influence the future of our country and Europe. Participating in such a discussion requires thorough preparation, including tracking other countries’ mistakes. And Sweden is the best training material, as it makes the most of them.
Are there any calculations of how much it costs Sweden?
The initial cost of immigration in Sweden, included in the draft budget for 2016, is 40 billion krona, and it is divided into two categories: ‘Immigration’ and ‘Equal rights and settlement’. This is a significant increase since 2010, when the cost equalled 12 billion, and it went up to 34 billion krona for this year. Additionally, the cost of the difference between benefits received by refugees, as well as other social services, and income from taxes paid by refugees, must be also added. According to the economist Joakim Ruist, this additional net cost per one refugee or a family member is 70 thousand krona annually.
What is the budget of your agency? Does it fund these benefits?
The 40 billion only covers the initial cost of the reception of asylum seekers, and it mainly funds benefits and costs of the Agency for Migration, which according to forecasts are estimated to reach 4.7 billion krona next year. The draft budget for 2016 is based on a completely outdated forecast which includes 74,000 immigrant residents in the next year, while in reality there may be five or ten times as many. According to the data from October 22nd, the initial cost of receiving asylum seekers will increase next year by 29 billion when compared to previously projected increase, up to 69 billion. The finance minister, Magdalena Andersson, announced that Sweden will be forced to introduce an austerity programme and take out a loan to finance increased spending on immigration in Sweden. At the moment there is a lot of talk about the cost of the so-called ‘unaccompanied refugee minors’, whose maintenance costs the state about one million krona per year. Another 30,000 are expected to arrive this year.
Where are these minors coming from?
Most of these so-called children are adults who claim to be minors. Swedish doctors refuse to verify their age. Police warn that in many cases they are homeless people, coming from non-European countries, who for years have illegally resided in other European countries, often with a criminal record. For ‘children’ the chances for obtaining a permanent residence are much better, and if they fail, the risk of expulsion is minimal, as their identity and often origin are unknown.
What else has changed in Sweden in recent years?
Educational results at schools have worsened. Sweden takes part in the PISA study, and out of all the surveyed countries, the results from Sweden are the worst: within several years it has dropped from 10th to 30th place. Only recently have scientists begun to notice the relationship between this significant drop and a huge influx of immigrants from Third-World countries. It would seem that these issues should not occur, as children can quickly learn the language. However, including two or three children in the class who do not know the language and are accustomed to a completely different education system is very burdensome for a teacher. Including ten new pupils, or even one new pupil but every week, disturbs the class even more. In Sweden programmes are being introduced to help new pupils before joining a regular class, but at the moment communities have less and less money and there are not enough qualified teachers available. Recently, it is no longer even controlled, because the influx of new students is too large. The most striking example is one of the schools in Norberg, where due to the lack of space at school, beginning outdoor lessons is being considered.
There are schools with no Swedish students at all, and where children speak Arabic in class. There are already people being born in Sweden who speak very little Swedish, and that with a very strong Arabic accent. These people will never integrate with the Swedish public; for them society is closed. A good example of the submission of Swedes towards visitors from non-European countries is a tragic story that recently took place in a school in Alvesta, in southern Sweden. Two 10-year-old pupils, from one of the non-European countries, were sexually harassing schoolgirls. For a long time parents unsuccessfully tried to intervene with the director of the school, who was explaining that this behaviour is normal for boys at this age. After some time, one of the boys raped one of these 10-year-old schoolgirls on the schoolyard. The school tried to suppress this fact. Parents found out about it from the alternative press. One mother told the director that she would keep her daughter at home until the boys were transferred to another school. The director reminded her of compulsory education laws. Finally, when 24 of the school windows were broken, and the director began receiving threatening e-mails, the media became interested in the whole story and the boys were transferred to another school. Interestingly, when reporting on this event, Swedish Radio presented the director as a victim. The first question at the press conference was: ‘How is the director?’
Schools are much worse than before, what about health care?
About 10 years ago they began publicly speaking about health care hitting the skids, about queues, and inequalities in access to treatment, which affects the elderly and people on low income who have reduced access to treatment in relation to their needs. Although the situation is getting worse each year, this discussion has died out. In recent years, newspapers writing about the health services mainly quote Swedish reports that highlight positive treatment outcomes in which Sweden really excels.
The major issue is the poor health of immigrants. In the first half of this year, there were 392 cases of tuberculosis recorded, out of which 89% were born outside of Sweden. In the past ten years, the number of tuberculosis cases in Sweden increased by 50%. At the moment, the health status of refugees is being discussed in Poland, where Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a Polish conservative politician, is warning the public about cholera. In fact, these people will benefit from health care to a much greater extent than Poles and Swedes. The average Swede, who works and is healthy, has no idea about the poor state of health care. The real tragedy begins in case of an accident, or when someone’s child gets sick and one has to wait in the A&E department [Emergency Room] for 12-16 hours before being seen by a doctor. All hospitals have security guards who must keep order and stop people from attacking doctors and nurses. In Uppsala, the trade union for emergency services employees demanded emergency equipment that police use during riots.
Kaczynski also spoke about fifty zones in the Swedish cities where the Sharia law has been enforced. Is that true?
These are no areas where Sharia law applies, but only zones controlled by organized criminal gangs on the basis of an ethnic community. In some areas it is actually the Sharia, mainly in Malmö, where the Muslim enclave is growing. But they can also be gangs from the Balkans or other countries. In Sweden the discussion concerns what these zones should be called, usually “no-go zones’, but there is no discussion of what to do with these zones; it is too difficult. Recently a report was broadcast on Swedish television from Tensta, a zone situated in the north-west of Stockholm where the Swedish state representatives are not allowed.
The journalists who entered the zone were attacked with stones even though they were protected by the police. Ambulances or fire brigades entering such a zone must be accompanied by police officers due to the high risk of attacks, mainly with stones. In addition to these 55 zones, there are many so-called “exclusion zones” in which only few people have a job, education and can vote. In 1990, there were only three zones like this, but in 2012 the number increased up to 186 per 5000 statistical areas. More than half a million people lived there.
Apparently, statistics about the origin of rape perpetrators are no longer collected?
Sweden is in first place among EU countries when it comes to the number of reported rapes. Last year, there were 20,300 sexual offences reported, out of which 6,294 were rapes. In comparison with 1975, when Sweden officially became a multicultural society, the number of rapes has increased fifteen times. Last year the detection rate for rapes in Sweden was 20% (for comparison, in Poland it was 78.2%). Currently, there are no statistics about the origin of the perpetrators of rapes, but using the statistics from 2005, five times as many perpetrators were born outside of Sweden. Moreover, according to the Danish statistics from 2010, foreigners account for more than half of those convicted of rape. Lately, some concerns arose about safety due to a large number of refugees, most of whom are young men. Particularly worrying is the fact that many of them claim to be minors and may act with impunity. Recently, there has been a lot of talk in the media about a brutal gang rape which perpetrators claimed to be minors. Although the police had a different opinion on their age, offenders were sentenced to six to nine months in an institution for minors. The prosecutor told the media that she was satisfied with the judgment.
Are immigrants not expelled?
They are not expelled, because there is no social consensus. Besides, there is really nobody who can expel them. In Sweden, there is no Border Service like in Poland. The only unit of the police is the Border Police, whose main duty is to deport immigrants who stay illegally. Their activity is quite symbolic, as they mostly expel immigrants who report themselves, as they cannot any longer accept their situation. It also happens that police find illegally residing migrants during traffic control. All of these people are usually expelled at the expense of the taxpayer. The situation is so difficult that in the case of 90% people who arrive in Sweden, we do not know who they are. They do cannot present any documents. When expulsion is necessary, it is often not clear from which country they actually come from. If, for instance, people speak Russian, they do not specify their country of origin because that could reduce their chances of receiving asylum. As a result, it is not known to which country the person should be deported. Many people speak Arabic, and if someone claims to be Syrian, they may therefore receive a residence permit, which in the case of Sweden means providing care for life.
How are immigrants admitted? Do they live in camps, are they getting paid by the government, do they receive benefits?
During the asylum procedure they have the opportunity to live in camps, which are paid for by the state, or they can live with a family which is not sponsored. In both cases they get the same allowance, which at the moment is 61-71 krona per day, which is less than in Poland. It seems that these huge numbers of recently-arrived immigrants not going to live with families, but expect that the state will provide them with accommodation. After receiving asylum for the next two years immigrants are covered by the special program during which they learn the language and are in contact with the employment agency which helps them to find an appropriate job. If they fail to get the job, they receive assistance from the state on the same conditions as the Swedes, which means that they receive a social allowance. They are paid for housing, electricity and get a certain amount of money. They also have an opportunity to apply for additional grants, depending on the municipality. If you arrive as a single woman with three children you will get about 22,000 krona. If you were to find work as a teacher, police officer or nurse you would earn less money, after tax, than the state offers work-free. For the Swedes, who have a very strong work ethic, it is clear that in such a situation they go to work. A woman who comes from a different culture, who is used to housework and taking care of children, does not see any common sense in this. Additionally, apart from the lack of motivation to go to work — there are no career opportunities anyway.
You said that immigrants were supposed to be a solution for the demographic decline, a way to pay pensions in the future?
For many years the Social Democratic Party have been telling the Swedes that we must accept refugees because of the demographic decline. This statement is an expression of incompetence or dishonesty. It’s not the number of refugees that will become a salvation for the aging country, but the level of their employment, wages and the level of current consumption. In 2009, the economist Jan Ekberg calculated that the activity rate of immigrants must exceed 72% for immigration in Sweden to begin to pay off. So far, no group of refugees has managed to achieve this rate, which today is 58% and has remained at this level for a long time. There are no signs that the gap in terms of income and tax revenues between foreigners and the Swedes will be reduced. Instead it looks that it is likely to increase.
Are there really no jobs available on the Swedish labour market at the moment?
A recently published report revealed that on the Swedish labour market there was a huge gap between the lack of qualified staff and a large number of low-skilled unemployed people. Many companies are unsuccessful in searching for skilled workers. The education system is not able to provide qualifications to a sufficient number of skilled workers, and immigrants who come to Sweden are poorly educated. Sweden is trying to manage this issue through an active policy on the labour market, but it brings a negligible effect. The two-year integration program is considered to be a failure, since only 6% of immigrants still have their jobs two and a half years after completing the program, despite the fact that employers who employ immigrants from non-European countries can receive up to 80% of their salary. Over the last five years, Job Centres paid out to private companies over 73 billion krona to partially refund wages for immigrants and those who are unemployed and have the greatest difficulties in finding a job. And the 94% ratio of unemployed immigrants remains the same as two years ago.
And what is your action plan should the situation in Sweden get even worse?
I do realise that the situation can deteriorate very rapidly. People who are aware of that store up food supplies. These are mainly foreigners; most Swedes are shocked and react in a negative way. I am trying to prepare for this mentally, although I have some small stocks of food prepared in case of unrest. I hope that in such a situation my children and I will be able to leave Sweden in time and reach the shelter of Poland.
* The interview was conducted in November, before Sweden decided to tighten border controls.
The short version translated below was published at Wirtualna Polska, the largest Polish news site. The full version was published by Euroislam.pl, whereas the shortened English version in Gates of Vienna.