By Enrique Tessieri
Is the present one-sided and passionate debate on immigration in Finland going to turn ugly? Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb poured some needed cold water on the debate by stating that it “reeks of racism, nationalism, populism, and xenophobia.”
The wayward and reckless route has even frightened some of its main perpetrators. Probably fearing a backlash to all immigrants, Jussi Halla-aho of the True Finns said that the majority of Finns are not against immigration as a Helsingin Sanomat poll showed. He said that the poll should have asked whether Finns want more refugees from countries such as Somalia and Iraq.
The statement by Halla-aho and the poll by Helsingin Sanomat do not tell us anything new. How many countries can you name where its inhabitants favor more immigration? How many believe their country has too few immigrants?
Opinion polls and attitude studies of immigrants in Finland reflect the same patronizing stances as the one-sided debate on immigration. They explain why our near-non-existent immigration policy has failed and why too many immigrants live marginalized from Finnish society.
Social Democratic Party (SDP) chairman, Jutta Urpilainen, stoked the immigrant-debate fires on Saturday when she blamed the government and immigrants for the problem.
Taking into account the lack of jobs in Finland and high immigrant unemployment, Urpilainen said that the SDP’s new immigration program would not only force people to learn the Finnish or Swedish language, but they would have to get off unemployment as well. She did not elaborate if unemployed immigrants were on the dole because they were taking advantage of the system or that they did not learn Finnish or Swedish because they did not want to.
At the present rate those who don’t want immigrants to come to Finland are sitting pretty. The present one-sided debate is not only forcing immigrants to reconsider their residences in Finland but scaring off potential newcomers.
Why would anyone want to move to such a hostile country where the immigration debate is one-sided and “reeks of racism, nationalism, populism, and xenophobia?”