Reason 943 to love Sweden

"Give me your bombed, your devastated, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

Published February 6, 2007 5:10PM (EST)

In 2006, the U.S. allowed 220 Iraqis to emigrate to the United States. During the same year, Sweden accepted 9,700.

Indeed, according to an Associated Press story originally published in December, but picked up by Newsday this week, "more people migrated to Sweden last year than during any year since records began to be kept 131 years ago" -- some 96,800 in total.

And here's the best part. While tensions are erupting over immigration all over Europe, the Swedes seem pretty blasé about the whole affair. Results of surveys released by the European Union's Eurobarometer indicate that 77 percent said "immigrants contribute a lot to society." The E.U. average, reports the AP, was 40 percent.

Those Scandinavians! What's not to like? A popular way to dismiss their tremendous achievements in social welfare is to say, oh, but those northern countries are so homogenous -- they don't have to deal with the problems that other countries do. Well, apparently Sweden, at least, is getting less homogenous by the minute, and so far, it's no big deal.

The difference in Iraqi immigration between the U.S. and Sweden, though; that is kind of a big deal. Sweden opposed the invasion of Iraq, and sent no troops to join the "coalition of the willing." But it is more than willing to provide safe haven.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Globalization How The World Works Immigration Iraq War