More anti-immigration “goodies” from the Social Democrats

by , under All categories, Enrique

If you want to look for some of the mentors of the Social Democratic Party’s anti-immigration wing providing sound-bite goodies to the media, MP Kari Rajamäki is one of them. Contrary to MP Eero Heinäluoma and SDP chairperson, Jutta Urpilainen, Rajamäki has a long track record of seeing immigration as a threat.

Rajamäki was interior minister in 2003-07.

Even though one would think that a left-wing party like the SDP should have a more favorable view of downtrodden classes like immigrants, in Finland it does not work that way. Setting aside a few nuances, the anti-immigrant wing of the SDP is very similar to the ultra-nationalist True Finns’ immigration policy.

In a letter to the editor in Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily, Rajamäki upholds and continues to spread the myth that we are being “invaded” by hordes of illegal workers/refugees and therefore we must suspect every foreigner that enters the country.  In the letter to Helsingin Sanomat, he incites fear and anti-immigrant rhetoric by stating foreign workers are a problem because they work illegally and do not pay taxes.

It would be great that the SDP, instead of vilifying foreign workers, would actually give us some concrete cases of the “worrying” trend of illegal immigrants in the country. One of the saddest aspects of the SDP’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is that it helps maintain the present abuse and discrimination in the Finnish labor market.

Local government minister, Mari Kiviniemi of the Center Party, was spot on in her May Day speech when she said that Heinäluoma and company want to capitalize politically on people’s stereotypes of foreigners.

Certainly we should find and expose companies that break the law instead of labelling every foreigner in this country as a potential tax evader. (See Are You a Target of Racism question number 5).

Have we seen any concrete visible cases of wrongdoing of illegal workers and tax evaders? No. Why? Because it is a probably nothing more than a ploy by the SDP to bash immigrants  and keep public opinion hostile to foreigners as the 2011 parliamentary elections near.

  1. JusticeDemon

    It’s important to view political commentary of this kind in the light of the proposals that are currently in Parliament and under government review. Government bill no. 269 of 2009 proposes a major overhaul of the system for issuing workers’ residence permits that is, in my view, most welcome and long overdue. However, it can be fully expected to run into opposition from the traditional corporatist arm of the Finnish trade union movement and the old Ministry of Labour lobby.

    The contradictions in Rajamäki’s letter are quite glaring. It shows concern over the grey economy (in this case characterised as the use of wholly undocumented migrant workers) while opposing a series of highly practical measures to tackle this very problem (e.g. the proposed amendment to section 73 of the Aliens Act).

    Undocumented asylum seekers are a fact of life. Their applications must be processed properly, which takes time. They are usually fit and able to work (torture victims may be an exception) and it is important that a legal avenue is available to any undocumented asylum seeker who manages to find work while the asylum application is still pending. The grey economy specifically exploits undocumented foreigners who cannot work in any other way.

    One of the most effective methods of mitigating unlawful antisocial behaviour is to provide legal avenues for alternative more constructive activity. The corporatist model of immigrant labour market control has been tested to destruction in Finland and found wanting. There is every reason to believe that the self-regulating microeconomic format proposed in HE 269/2009 has greater success prospects than could ever be realised by referring individual applications to a Labour Ministry official sitting in a windowless room with a book of statistics and a calendar of monthly meetings with equally ill-informed labour market confederation representatives.

    • Enrique

      Hi JusticeDemon, your analysis has left me speechless. Everything you want to know about changes in the Aliens Act are there. One of the big problems in Finland’s labor market (also for Finns) are large unions that are, in my opinion, defending their own interests at the cost of the unemployed, semi-unemployed and self-employed. As long as we maintain this system, unemployment will continue to be high. How can you STILL explain 7-8% unemployment after robust growth in the previous decade? The answer is unflexible labor markets. In this problem you lies the reason why immigrant unemployment in Finland is so high (26% at the end of 2009).

  2. hannu

    “Have we seen any concrete visible cases of wrongdoing of illegal workers and tax evaders? No. Why?”

    Dont use “we” when you talk about what you have seen.
    Google kiinalainen soppa, puolalaiset sähköasentajat, likaista peliä siivoojilla, nigerialaiset prostituoidut and Rikolliset raksalla.
    These came in mind.

  3. Paulina

    Someone should be ASHAMED saying the foreigners DO NOT pay taxes when a lot of them they pay 35% of NOT RETURNABLE tax
    where is really really hard to survive …

    HOW can a finnish society expect foreigner to learn fnnish if the classes are expensive and if they are slightly cheaper they are located in the middle of nowhere…where the travel costs for 5-6 weeks are 150 € , not to mention expensive books? ‘

    People don’t have anything to put into their mouth for dinner!!!

    classes..

  4. JusticeDemon

    Paulina,

    Your remarks above and some other comments that came by e-mail but have not been published suggest that you may have been badly advised about Finnish immigration and tax regulations.

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