Many of the deportation orders that the police receive from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) are difficult or impossible to carry out, police told Sveriges Radio (SR) investigative news programme Kaliber, which contacted all of Sweden’s border police units and expatriation centres.
In addition, of the roughly 18,00 people awaiting deportation, police only know the whereabouts of around 7,000.
Those set to be deported often lack genuine identity and travel documents, and many counties to which they are to be sent won’t accept the would-be deportees.
“Some of these cases where we see there are real difficulties in achieving the desired result are basically set aside until the statues of limitations run out and they are written off,” Lars Skoglund, head of the border police for Västra Götaland county, told SR.
Police also criticized the Migration Board for conducting substandard investigations, resulting in some of the work being dumped on police.
But Migration Board general counsel Mikael Ribbenvik rejected complaints from the police, arguing that while processing times at his agency have dropped significantly, nothing has been lost in terms of quality.
“We put a lot of time into our investigations, it’s the lead times and time estimates for different steps that we’ve changed,” Ribbenvik told the TT news agency.
He added that Sweden’s migration courts now change or reverse fewer of the agency’s rulings.
According to Ribbenvik, neither the Migration Board nor the police can say with certainty how many of the 18,000 people awaiting deportation from Sweden actually remain in the country.
“We don’t know where they’ve gone,” he said.
He also pointed out that in certain cases it can be “totally impossible” to carry out deportations.
“There isn’t any country in the world that would accept a person without being certain that he or she is a citizen of that country,” said Ribbenvik, adding that he understands the police’s frustration.
“They have a tougher job than we do. They have to deal with people who won’t cooperate.”