By Opinion Editor.
The immigration debate in Sweden is dominated by the failures of immigrants. What immigrants cannot do, do not want to do.
When politicians who are against immigration discuss the subject, they allude to the failed integration as a reason to close off the door of immigration especially through asylum. But the discussion is flawed in so many ways, particularly the assumption that learning the language is the only magic bullet to the successful integration of people born outside of Sweden. That is a dishonest position.
It is dishonest because it leaves out the obstacles that immigrants face in society which have nothing to do with being able to speak, read, write or understand the Swedish language.
A recent report by the agency for youth and civil society (MUCF) showed that young female immigrants were not only highly educated than their counterparts but also received the shorter end of the stick. They struggle the most to gain entry into the job market. By just considering this part of the education, we see that education – and by extension, the ability to speak Swedish – does not cushion people who come from outside Sweden or have roots there. It is a complex debate that has been reduced by populists into a simplistic issue with racist undertones.
The immigration debate is lop-sided so is the crime debate.
If the structural challenges that immigrants face are not acknowledged and tackled, the language will do little to help. The burden of integrating cannot be placed squarely on the one trying to come into a society only, it’s a two-way street, society also has to make space for that person.
The idea that immigrants and citizens can start fairly at the same starting point once the immigrant gains competency in Swedish is intellectually and practically flawed.