At a press conference where senior Swedish government ministers announced a job tax cut that could see families save around 14,000 Swedish krona ($1,264) per year, these same officials also noted how an "overwhelming majority" of people who live on government benefits in the country are immigrants. (Related: Europeans don't realize "one day they will become a minority in their own countries," warns best-selling South African writer Ernst Roets in interview with Hungarian media.)
Government figures provided at the conference showed that around 300,000 people in Sweden are currently registered as unemployed with the Swedish Public Employment Service, the country's main government agency for helping job seekers match with employers.
Data shows that around 60 percent of all recipients of unemployment benefits in Sweden have foreign origins, with slightly under half having non-European ancestry. The country's immigrant population at the end of last year was estimated to be at around 2.15 million, or around 20 percent of the Swedish population. This means that migrants disproportionately make up a majority of unemployed people receiving welfare benefits.
Sweden's conservative government, which receives support from the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats party, has sought to reform the country's very open immigration laws since taking office in September 2022. Several new draft bills have already been announced, designed to add more requirements for migrants to come and work in the country.
One such proposal, which has already been turned into law and will begin next month, will require prospective migrants to show that they have secured employment with a salary of at least 26,560 Swedish krona ($2,392) per month, or more than double the current threshold of 13,000 krona ($1,171).
To continue the fight against illegal immigration, the conservative government is also considering introducing a mandatory requirement for public institutions to report whenever they come into contact with illegal immigrants, known within Swedish government circles as migrants with "irregular situations."
Minister for Migration Policy Maria Malmer Stenergard noted that increased cooperation between the national government and every agency within the public sector is necessary to counter the growing migrants staying in the country illegally.
"The proposal for mandatory reporting of illegal immigrants in the public sector can counteract the shadow society," she announced. Stenergard added that government data reports that around 100,000 people may be staying in Sweden illegally.
The conservative government is currently reviewing the legal framework for this proposal to work out exemptions and to figure out what new tools authorities can be given to grant them more power to check the immigration status of individuals within Sweden.
For example, Sweden Democrats Member of Parliament Ludvig Aspling noted that it is currently illegal for Swedish police to carry out random internal immigration checks.
"It could be an effective tool in this context," said Aspling. These checks can be carried out with fingerprinting, and the government is currently considering allowing greater use of biometrics, including facial recognition, as well as DNA analysis for these immigration checks.
The government also plans to increase the limitation period for deportation decisions, which is currently at four years.
Other proposals include one that will put a strict time limit on "Swedish for Immigrants" classes to make sure that the migrants attending these government-sponsored language classes will take learning the Swedish language seriously.
Minister for Employment and Integration Johan Pehrson noted that it is "crucial" for immigrants to learn the language to get them into the labor market and reduce the "very large" gap in unemployment between people born in Sweden and people born outside the country.
"It's crucial that people speak Swedish if they are going to work in these roles," said Pehrson, referring to several industries in dire need of staff. He added that putting extra pressure on Swedish for Immigrants classes, combined with getting migrants into the workforce, could be an effective way of properly integrating migrants into Swedish society.
Learn more about the global migrant crisis at Migrants.news.
Watch this short clip of a massive migrant caravan making its way through Libya in Northern Africa en route to Europe.