The northern European country is remarkably welcoming to foreigners seeking refuge, but Sweden can reject an application on security grounds. The Swedish Security Service (SÄPO) has the authority to deport a person it deems to be a threat due to suspected links to terrorism or allegations that the applicant has committed serious crimes.

But ordering the deportation of such a person and actually enforcing it are two different things. Sweden doesn’t send people back to countries where they may face persecution, torture, or the death penalty. So, some folk are ordered to leave, but cannot be forced to do so.

While stuck in legal limbo, they are issued with temporary residency permits with all the benefits. They can work in Sweden, receive generous social benefits and sometimes even get passports that allow free travel to other EU members.

Other nations “have a hard time understanding how we consider people dangerous but still continue to give them passports and residence permits,” said the head of the Swedish Migration Agency, Mikael Ribbenvik, who wants the situation to change.

Ribbenvik believes the current rules are “unreasonable” and result in Sweden being perceived as “a safe haven for war criminals and potential terrorists”, he wrote in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

His agency wants a new legal framework that would make using the loophole a less attractive option. A few years ago it tried to stop issuing temporary residency permits to people slated for deportation with a special procedure that would be more restrictive, but the practice was overturned by a court.

A security review of how Sweden treats asylum seekers is currently under way and is due to be released in late March. The migration chief says it is important that the situation with so-called ‘deportation dodgers’ is reflected in it.

A record 122 people deemed a security risk were issued temporary residency permits in Sweden last year, the official said.

Sweden is currently struggling to reconcile its traditionally liberal attitude to migrants with the surge of violent crime reportedly linked to gangs of migrants. Critics say the government would rather cover up such problems than be perceived as xenophobic.

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