All quiet on the Finnish anti-immigration front?

by , under All categories, Enrique

There are some encouraging signs in the Finnish immigration debate recently. So-called immigration “critics” such as Jussi Halla-aho, Eero Heinäluoma and others have been strangely quiet on this front. Even ultra-critical immigration bloggers such as Tiwaz have vanished from our blog. One of the best pieces of news yet was that hate website,, ceased to exist from Monday.

There are still spooky hate websites like, where the person instructs people on how to kick out immigrants from Finland by force. The person states after spewing all this hatred, however, that he/she has nothing against foreigners.

Why haven’t we heard anything as of late on SDP’s immigration policy, maassa maan tavalla? Is there a serious policy rethink taking place on immigration in the party?

(There has been a debate in Migrant Tales over the definition of maassa maan tavalla. I define it as “Finland, love it,” based on the old pro-Vietnam War slogan “America, Love it or Leave it,” while others, who want to give the SDP the benefit of the doubt, define it as “In Rome do as the Romans do.”)

Even though it is too early to see where the debate will head next, one matter is for certain: When speaking publicly about racism the state and government must take a firm leadership role. If one leaves discussion to people that still live in the 1930s when it comes to ethnicity (in the same spirit as Alfred Rosenberg and others), and to opposition politicians, the debate can turn ugly.

Who was Alfred Rosenberg? He was one of the chief ideologues behind Hitler’s racial policy that gave the smoking gun by publishing, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, to exterminate millions of people through outlandish “demographic engineering schemes.” Believe it or not, Rosenberg was an architect.

One of the biggest mistakes that hate groups make is that their views of other cultures are based on a lot of boloney. Even though they would be the last ones to admit that they are racists, their strategy is seriously flawed. Why? Because it hinges on inciting nationalistic sentiment and rhetoric at the cost of excluding others from society. It is not based on fact but on ethnic fairy tales and over-exaggeration.

Like alcoholics, however, people with such social ills can change.

This is a good moment in the ongoing debate.

  1. AllWillBeGood

    Congestion in processing of family reunification applications

    Approximately 8,000 applications are awaiting decision in May
    The processing of residence permit applications based on family ties has become congested.

    At the beginning of May 2010

    approximately 8,000 applications on the basis of family ties are awaiting decision
    the earliest applications awaiting processing to begin were largely submitted in early autumn 2009
    the earliest applications awaiting decision were largely submitted in early 2009.
    The need for interviewing the applicant slows down the decision even more
    There are also earlier applications, which require more clarification work, still unresolved. In many such cases, the mission or the police need to interview the applicant and the sponsor living in Finland because of, for example, unclear documentation or lack of documentation. Oral hearings, i.e. interviews, slow down the processing and in some missions the waiting time for an interview may be very long. For example, in Damascus the queue is approximately a year long.

    The Finnish Immigration Service cannot influence the length of the waiting times for a mission or the police. A decision can also not be made immediately after the interview.

    The reason for the congestion is the increase in the total number of applications for residence permits on the basis of family ties; especially the increase of applications which require more clarification, in proportion to clearer and more rapidly proceeding applications.

    With the above info you realised that the message was well received and been taken care of with available tools. Controlling and regulating immigration by fast tracking to send people out congestion to cause delays. We all know that when there is congestion we hire more people to get the job done if we really want to do the job.

    • Enrique

      Hi AllWillBeGood, welcome to Migrant Tales and thank you for your comment on the huge backlog in residence-permit appliactions on the basis of family ties. I agree with you that if their is a manpower shortage the Finnish Immigration Service should hire more people. There may be, however, a political reason for this. Why do you think that the Finnish Immigration Service is not hiring more people to speed up the application process?

  2. Tuomas

    Suggesting that there is a political reason for the current situation is, in my opinion, a bit extreme. At least in this economic situation the more feasible explanation is that there are just not enough funds since many public services, such as healthcare, currently suffer from lack of manpower and funds.

    Unfortunately even when the situation turns for the better the additional funds for immigration service and things like language courses and preventing racist crime are on the bottom of government’s to do list. They probably will be as long as immigrants have no real political leverage here.

    • Enrique

      –Suggesting that there is a political reason for the current situation is, in my opinion, a bit extreme.

      If we look at the family reunifications from Somalia, one group that the Finnish Immigration Service is rumored to make matters as difficult as possible, could explain why the whole system is moving so slowly. Since immigration is such a hot issue today, there is always a political element to the decisions made on this front. Another explanation, as you mentioned, is economic.

  3. JusticeDemon

    I’m not sure quite why AllWillBeGood chose to post that response to this particular blog entry, but the response is interesting in its own right.

    It’s probably fair to say that Migri is nowadays a lot better than its reputation, as it has steadily enlarged and reformed over the years through various incarnations since the era of Kännö and Siljamäki. Certainly we no longer get dumb insolence or responses that insult our intelligence when pointing out qualitative issues concerning correct administrative procedure or respect for international human rights instruments, and on the whole I am willing to revise my general view of Migri and not to dwell on bygone problems (Ricky – take note!).

    The overwhelming contemporary challenge for Migri is more quantitative than qualitative, and concerns processing a large number of administrative matters in a reasonable time frame.

    At least part of this problem seems due to the practice of processing applications serially according to date of arrival, regardless of content or complexity. This means that applications requiring a total of 20 hours of work by six officials must be processed before applications requiring no more than 20 minutes of work by two officials.

    Some years ago (1997?) I pointed out to Matti Saarelainen (shortly after he took over as Director-General of UVI) that the most embarrassing cases of unreasonable delay arise when an application is self-evidently well merited, but nevertheless takes years to process. I suggested that minimal pre-screening could identify these applications and flag them for rapid processing. I understand that this was the main idea of the selvät myönteiset project that was subsequently launched at UVI, but I don’t believe the outcome of that project was ever published.

    As it is, Migri is still excusing unconstitutionally long processing times by arguing that this is an unavoidable outcome of the requirement to treat all applicants equally. This amounts to the view that because some cases are very complex and require a lot of work, it is therefore acceptable for all cases to take a long time. Conversely, it resembles an argument against providing disabled access to a building on the grounds that all visitors must be treated equally. If hospital emergency clinics worked on this basis, then the morgue would need extra staff to deal with all the corpses. What matters is the merit of the individual case.

    The point is that the goal of equality can only be achieved by comparing relevantly equivalent situations. It is clearly not served by treating every individual in the same way. In terms of applications of varying complexity, this amounts to treating comparable applications equally. In other words, it requires pre-screening of applications to ensure that open-and-shut cases are processed as such and not left to gather dust while more difficult cases are processed.

  4. AllWillBeGood

    Why do you think that the Finnish Immigration Service is not hiring more people to speed up the application process?

    Im not really sure why but I believe the situation we have now is still about controlling/regulating of immigration which is very sad.
    If you can recall that few years back there was congestion I dont remember at St Petersburg or moscow for tourist visa to Finland. The problem was solved by increasing the staff members.
    Im glad that I am one of these 8000 applicants waiting for their decision.I know now how it feels. Its like your whole life depends on it because you think about it everyday and can be mind troubling. My is in the sixth month so Im hoping for the situation to change soon.

  5. JusticeDemon

    Hiring more officials will have minimal impact on the problem of overall waiting times unless Migri also changes its workflow practices. I strongly suspect that one additional official could make a substantial difference IF that official has specific instructions to review ALL incoming applications and fast-track any that are self-evidently correctly documented and well merited. This would greatly reduce average processing times, even though problematic cases continued to take a very long time to process.

    A cynic might point out (quite correctly) that the main job of any licensing authority is to find reasons for turning down applications (known as impediments). This inevitably means that licensing officials are not mentally adjusted for the job of recognising well-merited applications, but instead will give particularly close scrutiny to any application that appears well-merited, on the assumption that their failure to find an impediment merely means that they have not examined the application carefully enough. This search for a black cat in a dark room takes much longer when there is no cat.