STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – An illegal immigrant who scored a big win with a lottery scratch card in Sweden appeared on television on Saturday to collect his winnings even though authorities have been trying to deport him.
Tesfaldet Tesloy, a 28-year-old Eritrean who has lived in the immigrant-friendly Nordic country for six years, won a tax-free prize of 1.2 million Swedish crown ($166,300).
But Sweden’s attempts to deport the man have failed due to his country’s refusal to take him back, highlighting a common problem for immigration officials.
Sweden says it has about 12,000 people awaiting deportation. Of those, Tesloy is one of hundreds living illegally in Sweden who cannot be sent home because their home countries refuse to have them back unless they agree to being deported.
Countries such as Iran, Cuba and the east African nation of Eritrea all ignore or refuse to cooperate with the deportation orders, leaving the immigrants stuck in a legal no-man’s land.
One immigration official described the deportation process as “difficult”, since few immigrants who come to Sweden seeking political refuge can be convinced to leave voluntarily.
“They are not allowed to be here … and we are unable to deport them, and they won’t to leave voluntarily,” Leo Garpenhielm at the Stockholm County Border Police said.
While Tesloy’s lucky lottery break was deemed entirely legal by the Swedish National Lottery, he is not allowed to work in Sweden but told Reuters he has now plans to become a licensed physical therapist.