MACLANE: President Trump was not entirely wrong about Sweden
Opinions Column: Conservative Hot Corner
President Donald J. Trump, at a rally in Florida last Saturday, seemed to mistakenly reference a terrorist attack that occurred in Sweden the previous night. He said, “We've got to keep our country safe. You look at what's happening in Germany. You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this? Sweden! They took in large numbers, they're having problems like they never thought possible.” This statement was then mocked by the media and the Swedish themselves, as there was no reported incident the night prior to this speech. Trump clarified himself, stating that he was referencing a segment from Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News that involved Carlson interviewing Ami Horowitz, a media personality, about the immigration situation in Sweden.
Trump and his cohorts have a history of inventing fake tragedies to push their political agendas. Just look back a few weeks ago to when Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway concocted a story about a bogus Bowling Green "massacre," or even Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s fraudulent anecdote about the terrorist attack in Atlanta. It is not unfair to assume that this was just another usual blunder by the Trump administration. Even though Trump’s rhetoric was sloppy, he does have a valid point in referencing Sweden as a country struggling to manage its huge influx of immigration.
The most overwhelming problem facing Swedish immigration policy is that they have allowed such a large number of immigrants to enter the country. From 2014 to 2016, Sweden welcomed 275,000 asylum seekers, which was the most per capita of any European country. According to Benjamin R. Teitelbaum, a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, “Sweden, a country of 9.6 million, lately has been absorbing 10,000 asylum seekers per week, and expects the total number coming into the country this year (2015) alone to reach 190,000 — a population greater than that of its fourth largest city.” Since the country has taken in so many refugees, they are struggling to manage the high costs associated with helping them.
Swedish authorities also lack proper information on immigrants being granted refuge into the country. According to Dr. Nima Sanandaji, president of the think tank Europe Centre for Entrepreneurship and Policy Form, in his book "Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism," he writes Sweden is having huge issues with crime associated with migrants from Morocco and other North African countries. When these migrants are arrested for committing crimes, they “are often released shortly thereafter because authorities lack information about their age, and most of the young men (migrants) tell the police they are underage.” Sanandaji also notes that many immigrants that come to Sweden are significantly older than they claim to be. According to Sanandaji, an immigrant from Afghanistan was accused of raping a child. The Afghan man claimed to be 15 on arrival but Swedish officials later confirmed from his Facebook profile that he was 45. According to Jimmy Åkesson, party chairman of the Swedish Democrats, and Mattias Karlsson, head of the Sweden Democrats in Parliament, 80 percent of people immigrating to Sweden in 2015 “lacked passports and identification.” So there is no proper system for vetting in place.
Even Sweden has acknowledged their immigration problem — although you would not be able to tell from their twitter accounts following Trump’s speech. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven claimed in 2015 that there would be “no limit” to the number of refugees that Sweden could accept. However, his tune changed in 2016 when all of these problems began to arise. He stated that Sweden “simply can’t do it anymore.” The number of asylum seekers dropped significantly in 2016 due to the increased scrutiny of Swedish laws regarding asylum seekers.
Trump may have botched the wording of his statement, as he typically does, but there is substance to what he was referencing. The night after Trump’s remarks, there was a riot in a Stockholm suburb primarily occupied by immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East. Having an open-door policy in relation to immigration has its repercussions, and it’s taking its toll on Swedish national security. Violent crime has risen the past few years and Swedish citizens, with immigrant backgrounds, have left to join the Islamic State Group and were still welcomed back into the country. Sweden has experienced problems with their open arms immigration and it’s a mistake the United States should not replicate.
Daniel MacLane is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science. His column, "Conservative Hot Corner," runs on alternate Mondays.
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