“We are talking about 60,000 people, but the number could climb to 80,000,” the minister was quoted as saying by Swedish media, adding that the government had asked the police and authorities in charge of asylum-seekers to organize their expulsion.
The proposed measure was announced as Europe struggles to deal with a crisis that has seen tens of thousands of refugees arrive on Greek beaches, with the passengers — mostly fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — undeterred by cold wintry conditions.
The United Nations says more than 46,000 people have arrived in Greece so far this year, with more than 170 people killed making the dangerous crossing.
Ygeman said the expulsions, normally carried out using commercial flights, would have to be done using specially chartered aircraft, given the large numbers, staggered over several years.
Sweden, which is home to 9.8 million people, is one of the European Union countries that has taken in the largest number of refugees in relation to its population. Sweden accepted more than 160,000 asylum seekers last year.
But the number of asylum-seeker arrivals has dropped dramatically since Sweden enacted systematic photo ID checks on travelers on Jan. 4. Swedish officials on Tuesday called for greater security at overcrowded asylum centers a day after the fatal stabbing of an employee at a refugee center for unaccompanied youths.
In neighboring Denmark, meanwhile, the government this week approved legislation to seize the valuables of refugees in the hope of limiting migration.