Sweden’s parliament will vote tomorrow about a law restricting asylum and immigration. It includes rules that limit the right of families to reunite, replaces permanent residence permits with temporary ones, and sets higher requirements for paying for your own upkeep. All signs point towards the proposal being passed.
I am appalled and ashamed. We live in one of the world’s richest countries, and instead of helping those in desperate need, right on our doorstep, we shut them out and pretend that it’s someone else’s problem. Just like during WW2, Sweden pretends to not see the problem. We make a dirty deal with Turkey and turn a blind eye to Turkey’s human rights problems, so that we won’t be inconvenienced. We’d rather let refugees die than have them come here and disrupt our comfortable lives. Fifty years from now, Sweden will look back at this time as a shameful period in our history.
The refugee situation has made me consider applying for a Swedish citizenship, for the first time ever, just so that I can go and vote against the people who are pushing Sweden in this direction.
I remember my own first few years in Sweden. It wasn’t in any way comparable to the refugee children’s situation, of course. But still, even now, over twenty years later, I remember the stress of having to live with a temporary residence permit, the anxiety that started building up months before our permits would need to be renewed, and how it grew and grew the closer we got to the deadline. Never knowing whether I might be sent back, away from my friends and my school; never daring to make plans for a longer-term future; having to take undocumented summer jobs (because we needed the money) instead of openly looking for a proper legal job. Not being able to sleep at night because I didn’t know if and when we might be kicked out, leaving my life behind.
I had my mother and brother with me at least. I cannot even imagine what it might feel like to go through this alone, knowing that your family is living in a war zone and won’t be allowed to join you for years.
And now Sweden’s politicians intend to put all refugee children through that.