Swedish Immigrants- A Bumpy Stay

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By Samuel Collins

Utopia Challenged.  Sweden's Relationship With Refugees

 

Rinkeby, as they call it, is a small suburban immigrant enclave, located somewhere near the Mediterranean Sea, just 13 km northwest of Stockholm, and about 18 minutes subway ride to center city. Here, more than 80% of Rinkeby’s residents are immigrants from places like Iraq, Syria, Somalia, South America and Eastern Europe. But the once lovely immigrant community has become notorious for crimes, riots, police brutalities.  According to Mr. Hoge, a resident, just a mere mention of the name Rinkeby, would get people to shrink back.

 

A Pew Research Center study conducted in “2016 found that over 46 percent of Swedes believed that refugees are responsible for most of the crimes than other groups,” even though an earlier study carried out by a popular local newspaper, the Dagens Nyheter, analyzed crime statistics in the same area and came to the conclusion that refugees were responsible for only 1 percent of all incident. For a country like Sweden, where unemployment rate has alway been almost non-existent, the unemployment rate remains high within the Rinkeby immigrant neighborhood , and this is just one of many indications that immigrants in Sweden are being targeted with workplace discrimination and other related issues. Most residents from this community connect the high unemployment rate there to direct public reaction to the presence of refugees and other migrants  elsewhere in the country.

 

The city of Rinkeby has a population of approximately 48.700, with roughly even male and female residents.  The birth rate here is 16.1%, and the death rate is at 4.9%. The population pyramid of Rinkeby displays almost a perfectly shaped beehive structure, with relatively many children and adolescents. The city has a high working population between the ages of 21 to 64, and less age-dependency of people between the ages 65 and 79, and between the ages of 14 and below- all of which are positive signs that residents here should be thriving economically. For refugees, however, the recent Syrian crisis has brought enormous stress upon the country’s ability to host refugees.

 

Looking at the Rinkeby story carefully, one would see that there are a number of correlations between what happened here in the U.S. in the 1800s, during the first and second waves of Irish and Chinese immigrants. For example, the methods used here in the U.S, which included race-sensitive immigration laws which were meant to keep in check Chinese immigrant workers from becoming U.S. citizens, appear to look much like what the Swedes seem to be implementing. For instance, in Sweden, immigrants are always immigrants. If you’re an immigrant, this attitude completely ignores whether you have received your citizenship, or whether you were born in the country, they still see you as either a migrant or an immigrant.  By being born in Sweden doesn’t confer citizenship status to children of foreigners.

 

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With world population on the increase, and globalization rapidly uniting every corner of the world in ways that our ancestors couldn’t have imagined,  rich and powerful countries would have to  preparation for these types of cultural diffusions which are often the result of wars, natural disasters.  And it’s made more urgent due in part to fresh crisis now erupting throughout the world.  These new problems, in their term help to supply a constant flow of refugees from  places like Asia , Africa, including eastern Europe.The newcomers then bring along with them their own cultural elements which before didn’t exist in their host country.

Italy  is added to the list of countries which have started to see increase in the number of migrants. The country has straight laws making it illegal to enter Italy without proper papers, but the law has so far done little to stop the number of illegal migrants from coming into the country.  Unlike Sweden, which has mostly legal immigrants, and well-vetted refugees, Italy has high illegal migrant population, and this has become a subject for debate in Parliament. Critics of the new law argued that the law is in violation of basic human rights. Some politicians argued that majority of migrant workers are honest people who are willing to work for lower wages which in many cases, Italian citizens are not willing to do for the same amount. Some low income families in big cities in Italy rely heavily on  migrant workers to take care of  their ailing relatives.

And the country’s rapidly aging population has opened up a new area of employment which most migrants seek.  Still, most Italian citizens continue to exhibit strong prejudices for people of immigrant ancestry, and this gives us just one more reason to believe that hatred against people of color is alive and well on the European continent. In Mr. Hoge’s story; “A Swedish Dilemmas: The Immigrant Ghetto” he writes about how “the town has become stigmatized in Sweden as a haven for welfare cheats and a center of criminal activity.” Even though this seems to not be the case, based on credible sources.

 

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