The Finnish government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä must be one of the few if not the only one in the world that is still pondering whether immigration is good or bad for the country. Even if the new government decided to carry out such an assessment by an independent body, thanks to pressure by the Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, it’s universally accepted by economists that immigration is good for the host country.
But plans to carry out such an assessment not only shows the xenophobic mindset of the PS but the shameful lack of leadership of the country’s two major parties in government, the Center Party and National Coalition Party (NCP).
A recent study by the OECD showed that immigration boosted the Finnish economy by 0.16% in 2011 including pensions.
This story by YLE was a good example of questionable journalism in Finland. Find out why here.
Such plans to commission such an assessment are also a direct insult to all migrants and minorities living in this country.
The only party that has criticized the assessment on the cost of immigration is the Swedish People’s Party. Its chairman Carl Haglund said Saturday that “it remains a mystery how we’ll succeed at luring people to move to our country when Sipilä and his buddies are standing at the border labeling [newcomers] on the forehead with a price tag.”
Not only is the government unsure whether immigration is good or bad for Finland, immigration affairs are handled today by PS Minister of Justice and Employment Jari Lindström, who is a former paper mill worker and lab assistant.
Do you believe that the plight of migrants living in Finland will improve with Lindström? Do you believe that Lindström has the political will to challenge discrimination and structural racism in this country?
If you do then you know something that a lot of us don’t know.
The assessment by the government has its roots with the PS. In an attempt to lure voters before the April elections, the populist conservative party’s message turned into a hostile campaign against immigrants and minorities. Two weeks before the elections the results of a questionable “study” by PS thinktank Suomen Perusta was published claiming that the benefits of immigration are mixed since it costs Finland 700 million euros a year.
Following the PS narrative, the “study” by the anti-immigration party painted everyone who wasn’t born in Finland with a single brush by grouping them as immigrants irrespective if the person is a white German or a refugee from Somalia. The 75-page report only mentions the term refugee once.
Why the PS “study” only uses the term refugee once in the report reflects the party’s view and their suspicion that most of them are so-called “welfare shoppers.”
While it’s clear that this PS has lured many voters thanks to its xenophobic message, equally shameful is the silence by playing along with it.
By playing along with this political prank by the PS, the Center Party and NCP reveal their own anti-immigration and especially anti-cultural diversity stances.
I don’t want empty statements by the government like “racism won’t be tolerated.” They are empty words that have no meaning, especially in this xenophobic environment. Talk is cheap. What such affirmations tell us in fact is that the government is not going to challenge racism but continue to give you the impression that they will.
In order to save the government money, since it is going to make hefty cutbacks that will hurt migrants and poor Finns like single mothers the most, I have a recommendation: Don’t carry out the assessment. Take my word and that of the vast majority of economists who near-universally agree that immigration is good for the host country.
But by embarking on such a questionable assessment you will only continue to maintain an atmosphere of suspicion and fuel xenophobia in Finland, which will benefit the PS politically. The impact of such a stance will not only scare people away from this country but discourage new skilled immigrants and expats from moving here.
In four years time don’t be surprised if xenophobia has strengthened its stranglehold on Finland and that we’ve become impoverished as a result.
* The Finnish name for 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.