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Sweden intensifies raids for illegal immigrants

Reuters

A general view of the migration agency detention center in Marsta, Sweden, on June 20

Reuters STOCKHOLM (Reuters) — Sweden has intensified its crackdown on illegal immigrants after a failed asylum seeker killed five people in Stockholm, but the move has raised concerns that more migrants will be driven underground to join a shadowy underclass.

In the past months, police have staged wider sweeps on workplaces to check papers, netting undocumented workers, sending a warning to employers and sparking heated debate in a nation that has been traditionally tolerant to migrants.

In May, police carried out their biggest raid so far when dozens of officers swooped on a constructions site in Stockholm. Nine were caught and sent to detention centers, while another 40 escaped by scrambling onto scaffolding and across roof tops.

Swedish authorities had already started to tighten up on illegal immigrants, but police stepped up their activities after Uzbek construction worker Rakhmat Akilov drove into Stockholm shoppers in April.

“We have an unlimited amount of work,” said Jerk Wiberg, who leads the Stockholm police unit in charge of domestic border controls. A 22-year veteran who has caught thousands of illegal immigrants, Wiberg led the raid at the construction site in May.

After Akilov became another militant in Europe to use a truck as a weapon, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven made it clear that “no means no” for those whose asylum bids are rejected. Akilov, whose lawyer said he had admitted to committing the crime, had been in hiding after his asylum request was denied.

The Migration Agency estimated 10,000 asylum-seekers a year will choose to disappear rather than be deported. Up to 50,000 undocumented immigrants already work in hotels, transport, construction and restaurants, the agency said last year.

Migration Minister Morgan Johansson said that a “dual labor market ... where a growing group lives on the outside of society and remains in Sweden” after having been denied residency was unacceptable.

“It also increases the risk of them being exploited. We cannot have it that way,” he said, adding, “One way is to go after the employers ... [using] expanded workplace checks.”Speech

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