A combination of lax policing and a lack of political will has rendered Sweden’s shock border checks totally ineffective, as the first 24-hours show no reduction in migrant numbers.
Sweden suspended the Schengen zone at their southern maritime borders with Denmark and Germany yesterday, reintroducing passport checks for ferry and bridge traffic. Intended as a measure to temporarily slow the flow of migrants into the country, to allow the national migration bureau to bring itself back from the edge of collapse, the border checks seem to have had no effect on arrival numbers.
Citing figures from the migration bureau, the Swedish Fria Tider reports that across Thursday-Friday, the first day of border checks, approximately 1,600 migrants applied for asylum in Sweden, no reduction from the same period in the previous week.
Despite hundreds of police officers having been deployed to the borders, just 30 migrants were turned away — and even those left voluntarily, deciding to go back to Denmark.
All indications suggest the so-called border controls have been deliberately spiked by the government, which has set so many requirements and standards on the police enforcing checks that little has actually changed. So far the only major impact has been massive inconvenience for the thousands of Danes and Swedes who commute across the border between Copenhagen and Malmo daily.
Far from the initial assumption that asylum seekers who had either by accident or design lost their passports would be turned away at the border, in practice only Europeans are being required to have their passports checked. Those claiming asylum at the border without a passport are still admitted by the migration bureau.
Any attempt by the police to intercept illegal migrants has also been forestalled by the government. As there are not enough officers available to check the papers of all travellers coming to Sweden, the police are only engaging in ‘spot checks’, and the government has forbidden officers to select those they check by “discrimination”.
In practice, this means officers are banned from singling out passport checks on the thousands who cross the bridge to Denmark or ferry to Germany every day on ethnicity, language spoken, or skin colour, reports Swedish television. The report claims the orders came from “police management”, and quotes the remarks of academic Daniel Görtz who has called the order “paradoxical” and “cynical”.
The Lund university sociologist, who is an expert on the relationship between police and race said the police had a responsibility to prevent illegals from entering the country, but were prevented from doing it effectively by the orders they had received. He worried the rule opened up individual officers to criticism and accusations of racism if they did they jobs effectively.
Despite the questionable effectiveness of the Swedish policy change, migrant up-stream nation Denmark are following developments closely. Senior government figures in the country are holding a migration crisis meeting today, and despite announcements by the prime minister that Denmark would not be closing their borders, that is expected to be discussed this afternoon.