Trump's comments about Sweden have sparked interest in the USA on the subject of just how well Sweden's immigrants are doing. This is unfortunate, since anything related to Trump immediately becomes mired in controversy. But a number of American news outlets, after looking into the matter, have determined, ever so cautiously, that Trump sort of has a point.
The New York Times recently spoke to "Henrik Emilsson, an international immigration researcher at Malmö University." In Germany, "immigration researcher" has basically become shorthand for "open-borders lobbyist". The battle lines are hardened, and many German "immigration researchers" are still unwilling to concede even a single downside to mass low-skilled immigration to Germany, and usually end up arguing some form of "mass immigration into Europe is inevitable, so people who live here might as well just get used to it".
Perhaps because Emilsson teaches in Malmö, which is 40% immigrant, he strikes a somewhat more reality-based tone:
Is there any evidence that recent immigrants are having an impact on crime in Sweden?
Not the recent ones. There is a huge debate in Sweden about immigration and crime. And we know from earlier statistics that the foreign-born commit three times as many crimes on average as native-borns. But these riots and crimes in the suburbs, they are related mostly to drugs and gangs. Those people are born and raised in Sweden. It has nothing to do with the recent immigration. It’s the children of migrants and maybe people that came when they were young.
There has been this issue of sexual harassment. And there is some evidence that the new refugees are somewhat involved in this. But there are no official statistics on it.
What about terrorism?
Not particularly, because the people for example who have gone and fought for ISIS, they are also quite established — they are Swedes that have grown up here.
Have recent immigrants done more poorly in Sweden than people who came in previous decades?
It depends on how far back you look. For example in the civil war in Yugoslavia in the early 90s, it was a catastrophe when they arrived. There was the same panic. It took a long time for them to find jobs. But if you look at that group now, they are very successful. They have like 70 percent employment rate.
We don’t have these low-skilled jobs, so it takes a lot of training and education, and patience. Since 2006, the migrants have been more from failed states like Afghanistan and Somalia and Iraq, so they probably will have a more difficult situation. So in the short term it will be a big cost for society. In the long term maybe if they end up doing as well as Bosnians, it will be an asset.
Do you think that maybe the Bosnian — or, broadly speaking, the Yugoslav — experience is different because they are also European?
It’s mostly that often they were professionals. They didn’t necessarily have very high education, but they were specialists in different crafts. But they were mostly also Muslim, so it has less to do with religion, I think.
Stripped of all the hedging and padding, Emilsson basically says (1) Yeah, foreigners actually do have higher crime rates and are at least part of the reason for the increase in sexual assault; (2) the main problem is with second or third-generation immigrants; (3) it was really hard integrating the people from the former Yugoslavia; and (4) these newcomers are going to be a whole lot harder to integrate than the Yugos, since they have no skills, and (4) this is all going to cost Sweden a lot of money and effort.
The clear implication is this: a disproportionate amount of crime in Sweden is committed by the sons and daughters of former immigrants, and we just imported a huge new wave of immigrants who are likely to do even worse in Swedish society than the last wave. And they'll soon start having sons and daughters, too.
Emilsson then praises Sweden's integration efforts, saying they've done better than Denmark or Norway. But even though he wants to convey an overall positive impression, his interview does pretty much the opposite