Sweden toughens rules for refugees seeking asylum

Sweden, once one of the most welcoming countries for refugees, has introduced tough new restrictions on asylum seekers, including rules that would limit the number of people granted permanent residency and make it more difficult for parents to reunite with their children.

The government said the legislation, proposed by the Social Democrat minority government and enacted by a vote of 240 to 45, was necessary to prevent the country from becoming overstretched by the surge of migration to Europe that began last year.

The country, which has a population of 9.5 million, took in 160,000 asylum-seekers last year.

As elsewhere in Europe, the far right in Sweden has been railing against immigration, a stance that is increasingly resonating with voters. Wealthy countries across northern Europe, including Denmark, Finland and Britain, are increasingly pushing back against calls to accept more refugees amid fears that it could undermine stretched welfare systems, national integration and quality of life.

[New York Times]

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