A much-debated decision passed by the Swedish parliament has allowed a total of 9,000 Afghans billed as "unaccompanied refugee children" a new opportunity to stay in the Scandinavian country despite lacking proper justification for asylum and having had their previous applications rejected, national broadcaster SVT reported.
None of the 9,000 Afghans had valid documents when they first applied for asylum in the Scandinavian country. Over 99 percent of the Afghans are men and 78 percent of them were previously found to have lied about their age, the daily newspaper Expressen pointed out.
The controversial bill, estimated to cost the Swedish state SEK 2.9 billion ($350 million) in the first three years alone, has long lingered in the Swedish parliament to the ire of the opposition parties. While the Sweden Democrats, the Conservatives, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals all said no to the proposal, the bill still went through, as the government proposal was backed by the Center Party, ensuring a majority of the votes and questioning the solidity of the opposition Alliance.
Center Leader Annie Lööf previously said that she'd rather eat her right shoe than support the Social Democrats, which is why Center Party's headquarters were bombarded with shoes, sent in by critics.
Visa vad du tycker om Annie Lööfs beslut att tillåta 9 000 vuxna afghanska män – utan asylskäl – stanna i Sverige och gå i våra barns skolor…håll vad du lovar 👍#val2018 #svpol #politikfakta #politik #sverige #alliansen #BörjaTuggaAnnie pic.twitter.com/vsmFVuXYsM— Noterad (@Noterad) 24 апреля 2018 г.
"The human consequences would have been far too large for these young people had this bill been stopped today," Annie Lööf explained to Expressen after the vote.
Previously, the decision to grant mass amnesty was slammed by Sweden's Legal Council.
"The limit has been reached for what is acceptable in terms of how legislation can be formulated," the Legal Council wrote in its statement.
Conservative political spokesman Elisabeth Svantesson argued the law is unfair.
"Granting a group of people asylum based on the fact that they have been waiting for a long time, while others who also have been waiting long never get it, is very shaky," Svantesson said, calling the decision "unfortunate" and "bad legislation."
2,9 miljarder kronor har regeringen, tillsammans med Centerpartiet, beslutat att spendera på 9000 afghanska män utan skyddsbehov för att de ska få gå i svensk skola. Det kan du ändra på den 9 september. #SD2018 pic.twitter.com/hD7eUFhDb5— Sverigedemokraterna (@sdriks) 7 июня 2018 г.
"The government is rewarding those who have lied about their age," the right-wing Sweden Democrats tweeted, pledging to change his in the upcoming general election.
Incidentally, the law triggered criticism even among members of the Afghan diaspora. Afghan teacher Zulmay Afzali argued in an opinion piece published in Göteborgs-Posten that the law would do more harm than good, bringing "chaos and injustice."
"There will be chaos and consequences that politicians with their 'compassion' have been unable to imagine," Afzali wrote.
The law will come into force on July 1, allowing the Afghans to apply for a new residence permit provided that they are students or intend to study and have not committed any crime.
Sweden's Afghan diaspora numbers over 44,000 people and has been estimated to have grown exponentially during the recent years' migrant crisis.