Before asking asylum seekers to respect Finnish laws and culture we should ask if we practice what we preach

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Interior Minister Petteri Orpo said that in order to make Finland a more secure place, each asylum seeker will have to sign an agreement that he or she will not break the law and respect Finnish culture, according to YLE

“In this way they [asylum seekers] will understand and promise to follow Finnish laws and culture,” said Orppo. “We want to make clear these basic rules [to them].”

Näyttökuva 2015-12-4 kello 18.03.08
Read full story here.

While such an initiative is bound to fail and fall flat on its face, I for one hope that Finnish politicians and ministers like Hanna Mäntylä and Jari Lindström and many others would follow, or at least understand, our constitution and laws.

What about substitute MPs of the PS like Juha Maenpää who wrote on his Facebook wall that god answered his prayers after an asylum reception center was razed to the ground by a suspected arson attack in Niinsalo Tuesday? How does Mäenpää follow and respect our laws and culture?

Orppo’s attempt to get asylum seekers to sign an agreement reveals, in my opinion, his opportunism and ignorance about the challenges the country faces with over 30,000 asylum seekers. It also reveals how much influence the PS has in government concerning immigration policy.

Such an “integration” contract has been suggested by many populist and anti-immigration politicians before. I don’t think it has ever been applied anywhere in Europe because it simply wouldn’t work.

Asking somebody to sign such a contract shows that you don’t trust them and see them as a security risk. A country that takes in refugees doesn’t offer a good image of itself and to asylum seekers by showing suspicion instead of faith and fairness towards them.

By asking them to sign such an agreement we are suggesting that they will break the law and are potential criminals. People, irrespective of their background, are innocent before proven guilty, right?  That’s a basic human right that applies to everyone. 

When Orppo talks about following Finnish culture does he mean that Muslims can now drink alcohol and get drunk the Finnish way? Can they be racist like some Finns? Racism is a part of our culture and a way how men and women boost their low self-esteem.

Go here if you want to read something about the dark side of Finnish culture.

Why doesn’t the government stop these double standards and ask ministers like Mäntylä, who like her colleague Justice Minister Jari Lindström, to read what Section 6 of the Constitution states and guarantees.

Section 6 Equality:

“No one shall, without an acceptable reason, be treated differently from other persons on the ground of sex, age, origin, language, religion, conviction, opinion, health, disability or other reason that concerns his or her person.”

Both ministers, who are members of the anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party, aren’t serious about solving the present challenges that Finland faces concerning the large number of asylum seekers but are more interested in scoring brownie points with some of their racist followers and voters.

One of the matters these ministers want to do is to turn these asylum seekers into third-class members of society by watering down their rights and social security benefits. The social welfare benefits of white Finns, however, wouldn’t be touched by them.

Blogger Saku Timonen has written about these unconstitutional changes on numerous occasions by Mäntylä and Lindström. Timonen, who is a lawyer, stated that the only way that social welfare benefits can be lowered to foreign residents in Finland is by lowering these benefits for everyone.

In our opinion, the ignorance of our laws of ministers Mäntylä and Lindström is as dangerous to our society as any person, regardless if he or she is a Finn or a foreigner, who doesn’t respect or abide by our laws.

The best way for people to respect Finnish laws and culture is to show, first and foremost, that we genuinely respect them and that our laws are fair for everyone.

We’re a country built on social justice and equality, not social inequality and discrimination.

The Finnish name of the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English-language names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.

  1. PS voter

    Actually, integration contracts are used in many European countries, although I am not sure if that kind of contracts will help that much with integration. The real problems are so large that this kind of uncontrolled mass migration is completely unsustainable, even if they all would sign integration contracts. BTW, the name of the politician is Orpo and not Orppo.

    Haven’t you really understood how quickly this uncontrolled mass immigration is getting out of control and how unsustainable it is, if we let year after year people come with the current rate and also have family reunions with Finnish taxpayers money and loaned money, which is not infinite resource? Even if we ignore the increasing crimes rates, the risk of terrorist attacks increasing etc, the economic costs skyrocket and will cause the wellfare state to collapse within short time unless we manage to significantly to reduce the number of persons coming or (or to be more precise, staying here). A country with 5.5 million persons cannot in any way work as a social security office for billions of poor people on Earth.

    For example, in Norway their statistics institution estimated that the average lifetime cost of humanitarian immigrant to Norway are about 800 000 euros. And Germany economist Bernd Raffelhüschen estimated the costs of the immigrants arrived so far to Germany to be 900 000 million on the long term in the case they integrate well on the job market, which he though to be unlikely (Flüchtlingskrise könnte fast eine Billion Euro kosten, Die Welt): “Even with an integration of migrants into the labor market within six years, administrative fees in the long term to 900 billion euros, he said during his presentation of the Market Economy Foundation.” In his opinion, Germany simply cannot afford this and because of that, those persons have simply to be send back.

    • Migrant Tales

      I doubt that there is any such deal and if there were it can’t be legally binding. It’s only a catchword that populist politicians use for internal consumption. Which are those “many European countries” you are speaking of? We’d like to know.

      The adjective “uncontrolled” before the noun immigration is a favorite of the anti-immigration community. When is immigration “uncontrolled” and “controlled?” Is there a magic number you’d like to share with us? You speak of Finland’s social security system serving “billions of poor people on Earth.” That’s a gross exaggeration on your part, right?

      Just like the term “uncontrolled” is used by anti-immigration politicians and groups, the other one is: “Our social services cannot serve the world.” Who’s saying this? You and a few others from parties like the PS.

      You mention Norway in your comment but forget to mention that they have a minority government with Hoyre and Progress Party, which is in the same xenophobic league as the Sweden Democrats, Danish People’s Party and PS. Now why is Norway suddenly tightening their immigration policy and finding arguments for such a policy move? You’ll find the answer in the Norwegian minority government.

      Do you still call yourself PS voter? Are you going to vote for them in the municipal elections of April 2017?

      Thank you for your comment.

    • Migrant Tales

      This is exactly what I said about the integration contracts. There are “calls” and ministers “ask” but nowhere are they in force. And I’m sure there would be a lot of legal issues. How binding are they.

      Politicians sound out such things to their voters. They are trying to show they got a handle on the issue, which they don’t. In Spain too in 2008 Prime Minister Rajoy said he’d like to get migrants to sign integration contracts.

      Can’t you see the futility in these things? Why not teach them at school about the challenges of living in their new homeland? It would be more effective.

      And could you tell me what it means to follow a certain culture? What are the norms and who decides?

    • PS voter

      I would say the situation is uncontrolled when it will cause the welfare state to collapse, may lead to wars in Europe as said be several leading politicians in EU and to the collapse of the whole EU. I would like to remind what European Council president, Donald Tusk, said on Thursday and he also proposed detaining them for 18 months (Tusk: ‘Wave of migrants too big not to be stopped’, Eric Maurice, 3. December 2015, EUobserver):

      The current influx of migrants is “too big not to stop them,” European Council president Donald Tusk has said. He proposed that irregular migrants are detained for up to 18 months to check their identity.

      “Let’s avoid hypocrisy: it is not a question of international solidarity anymore, but a problem of European capacities. Europeans would be less reluctant if the EU’s external border was really under control,” he said.

      “Some [leaders] say the wave of migrants is too big to stop them. That is dangerous,” he said.

      “This wave of migrants is too big not to stop them,” he said, adding that nobody is ready “to absorb these high numbers, Germany included.”

      And what I am saying is not exaggeration. If we don’t start quickly limiting the number of people coming here, the flow of people is practically endless (especially with the population explosion in many parts of Africa) and and the yearly numbers will just continue increasing. And even with the current numbers Finns will became a minority within our own country.

      You haven’t really been paying up, if you think that only anti-immigration groups have said that social services cannot handle more or less uncontrolled immigration. It simple common sense. Even the Nobel prize-winning economist Milton Fried said the same thing: “It’s just obvious you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state”. And he was not anti-immigration person.

      We can barely provide social services for the current number of poor people in Finland and even that is at the moment on unsustainable level as we have to take several billion euros of loans yearly.The current number of unemployed in Finland is 234 000 persons. This year there will be about 35000 migrants to Finland with very with quite low hope of getting jobs and. And at the current rate during next year there will be least the same number of persons coming on the top of of the previous persons and the same during following years. And on top of this, the family reunions can make these numbers even several times bigger.

      We already know that even during better economic times the employment rate (note that I am speaking about employment rate and not unemployment rate) of the immigrants from countries like Somalia and Iraq has been around 15 % or even less. And there is no reason to think that the rates for the persons that are coming now would be any better. It is likely that it will be even worse as Finnish economy is in quite bad condition and it is far more difficult to find jobs for huge number of persons instead of low number of persons.

      And if you haven’t noticed, even Sweden that has long tradition of extremely lax immigration policies and pro-immigration ideology (and their government don’t include Sweden Democrats), just decided it simply must drastically the reduce the number of persons coming, as it is not able to cope anymore. They don’t have room for new asylum seekers and they have to sleep on the streets. On this week Sweden threatened to cut the bridge to Denmark, unless the number of persons coming to Sweden is not drastically reduced by other means.

      It is still open question if I will vote Perussuomalaiset on next elections. I didn’t vote them in previous elections, because they didn’t show as much support for applying NATO membership as National colition party. And since the elections Perussuomalaiset has been far too tame in immigration issues and now Finland has probably the most lax immigration policy in the EU. Even the Socialists and Greens in the government of Sweden have been able to make the immigration to Sweden more controlled than the current Finnish government with Perussuomalaiset. Most immigration-critical voters of Perussuomalaiset feel that Perussuomalaiset has betrayed them. And there is clearly need for a party that shows real interest for much tighter immigration control as about 80-90 percent of Finnish population wish tighter immigration controls.

    • PS voter

      Just to correct my own spelling, it is of course Milton Friedman instead of Milton Fried.

    • Migrant Tales

      This is a pilot program in Switzerland and it’s a bit different where all foreigners or asylum seekers that come to the country are obliged to sign an integration contract.

      The Elano source is empty.

    • Migrant Tales

      Interesting stuff and I think that there’s no disagreement on integration courses like in Finland. The point I was making is that you don’t take asylum seekers, give them a contract, and forced them to sign it. As the Elcano article points out there are legal issues and questions like what does it mean to follow a certain culture?

    • Migrant Tales

      Another important point: If we really believed and practiced what we preached as a Nordic welfare society we wouldn’t have any problems. Even if we speak of integration, two way adaption, have religious freedom you’ll agree that they are hot topics in our society. Why? Seems odd, no?

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