by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
At a campaign rally over the weekend, Trump issued forth with a mystifyingly ominous statement. “You look,” he declared, “at what’s happening last night in Sweden.” What? Had the president invented a nonexistent terror attack? As it turned out, the reference was to a segment on Sweden he had watched on the Fox News show Tucker Carlson Tonight the previous night rather than to any specific event in the Nordic country.
The ensuing discussion quickly took on the character of much of the debate in the early Trump years — a blunderbuss president matched against a snotty and hyperventilating press, with a legitimate issue lurking underneath.
By welcoming a historic number of asylum-seekers proportionate to its population, Sweden has indeed embarked on a vast social experiment that wasn’t well thought out and isn’t going very well. The unrest in the Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby after police made an arrest the other night underscored the problems inherent in Sweden’s immigration surge.
Sweden’s admirable humanitarianism is outstripping its capacity to absorb newcomers. Nothing if not an earnest and well-meaning society, Sweden has always accepted more than its share of refugees. Immigration was already at elevated levels before the latest influx into Europe from the Middle East, which prompted Sweden to try to see and raise the reckless open-borders policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Sweden welcomed more than 160,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, and nearly 40,000 in October of that year alone. For a country of fewer than ten million, this was almost equal to two percent of the population — in one year. The flow doubled the number of asylum-seekers at the height of the Balkans crisis in 1992.