The Swedish government has passed a bill that allows young asylum seekers to stay in school until they become adults. It could, however, cause a rift in Swedish politics.
The Swedish parliament passed a bill on Thursday that allows young asylum seekers to stay in the country to complete high school. The decision comes after the country's national migration agency did not get to process applications from certain underage asylum seekers before they became adults.
Asylum applications in Sweden take on average more than a year to be processed, which means some applicants turn 18 by the time their application is considered.
The bill passed the Swedish parliament with 166 votes for the bill, 134 against, and 48 abstentions. The measure was supported by the minority Social Democrats and Greens and opposed by the Moderates and Sweden Democrats.
Maria Ferm, a member of the Greens, told the TT news agency, "we need to take political responsibility. (Asylum seekers) should not be affected because the Swedish authorities haven't managed to process their application on time."
The bill exposed a gap in the center-right Alliance just three months before Sweden's general elections. Immigration is likely to be one of the most talked about subjects going into the election.
Some restrictions apply
The law will come into effect on July 1. However, to be considered, asylum seekers have to re-apply by the end of September. The ruling is only valid for youths who initially applied for asylum no later than November 24, 2015 - when Sweden toughened its asylum rules.Sweden has registered at least 400,000 asylum applications since 2012, according to AFP. That is one application for every 25 residents - the highest proportion in Europe.