The far-right Sweden Democrats are gaining traction ahead of the September 2018 elections in Sweden, as an increase in hate crimes has paralleled an increase in xenophobic rhetoric and politics. Sweden has accepted refugees and immigrants for several decades – a trajectory similar to what the United States is experiencing. Given an increasingly recognized “Trump effect” internationally, from New Zealand to the United Kingdom, other societies’ lessons learned are particularly salient today. This paper uses Iranian migrants, the second largest non-European migrant community in Sweden, as a case study of immigration and integration practices for the USA. As both liberal, multicultural countries with histories of immigration and similar political climates, this paper contends that Sweden provides a model of bilateral integration, so that xenophobia does not trump a humanitarian commitment.
The paper offers a self-designed set of markers of integration by which to evaluate migrants’ degree of integration, including employment and education. Twenty-nine semi-structured interviews, coupled with quantitative data, media, and academic literature, were used to inform an evaluation of integration and current practices. Structural racism is manifest in Sweden’s economic integration through employment and housing. This research presents an opportunity for the USA, among other liberal nations, to learn from other societies facing similar challenges but utilizing different approaches.