Europe and Finland must get its immigration policy right

by , under All categories, Enrique

y Enrique Tessieri

The rise of right-wing populist parties and their ever-growing attacks on immigrants and minorities is an outcome of Europe’s inability to draft and pass a workable immigration, refugee and integration policy. Immigrants and refugees are not the real threat to Europe. It is weak leadership by politicians and standing up to the populist rhetoric that fuel prejudices and urban myths about Europe’s new inhabitants.

A good example why some integration policies are set to fail before they become public policy is that dear little has been done in many countries to promote acceptance and cultural diversity.

We all know that the millions of immigrants and Turks that emigrated to countries like Germany and Austria were not supposed to stay there permanently. After working a for a few years they were expected to return to their home countries.

In Germany, as well as in many European countries, there is no effective plan to integrate immigrants. A successful integration program must go further: It must give immigrants the opportunity to become equal members of society.

If we look at the ongoing debate in countries like Finland, one gets the view from some Social Democrats that migrant workers must be held in contempt because they work for lower wages and don’t pay taxes.

Certainly an effective integration and public policy would resolve many matters like the above. If employers are exploiting immigrants while the authorities turn a blind eye, is it the foreign laborer or the system that is to blame?

Humans are social animals and their first aim in a new country is to integrate in a group and establish social networks. If they see that integration is impossible to the majority culture and exploitation the rule, this situation will lure some of them to evade taxes and work outside the law.

If a society is exclusive and there is hostility towards immigrants, what are these people supposed to integrate to?

Immigrants and refugees are not the problem of Europe. The problem is public policy and lack of leadership.

  1. Allan

    First time I read something written by you that actually makes sense! There are too many people, politicians as well as the people supporting the politicians directly or indirectly benefitting from the “status quo”. Be it exploiting the chained “EU free movement” construction workers who pay no taxes to any country or be it human rights lawyers benefitting from the asylum seekers or multiculturalists benefitting from shelter jobs, there is always someone who does not actually wish the status quo to change.

    Of course, blogs like yours do not help the situation, as any legislation designed to curb these benefits to multiculturalists in shelter jobs is “racism” and “xenophobia” as integration would mean the multiculturalists would lose their lucrative positions. Why are you shooting in your own leg all of a sudden?

    • Enrique

      Allan, there is no grand conspiracy between what you call “multiculturalists” and politicians. I have a feeling that the type of policy changes you would want to implement in Finland are in line with Suomen Sisu and Suomalaisuuden liitto. If that is the case, all you are doing is replacing able social workers with the police and army to handle things. I think you probably know that by now that our societies in Europe are culturally diverse and nothing can change that unless you want a “final” solution. Therefore, social policy must be effective and answer the real issues. How do we integrate the most immigrants into society? What policy works most effectively?

      I have studied multiculturalism as a social policy and it’s no easy thing to grasp even for a social scientist. Even so, the answer is right under our noses in our own constitution and laws. If we followed them and applied them in earnest to immigrants, matters would change. If the PS ever got to govern, and that is a big “if,” they would water down these laws.

  2. Allan

    No Enrique, the laws exactly should be applied to all foreigners, especially non-resident EU-citizens who right now can flaunt laws without any reprecussions. Not pay taxes, drive with unroadworthy cars, you name it. A resident doing any of the same would get into serious trouble.

    • Enrique

      Niko, do you really think that you cannot criticize a concept like multiculturalism in Finland? I advise you to surf the net for a few minutes and tell me what you find. Go back a few years if you wish. Censorship of this subject is another urban myth spread by the anti-immigration group. The issue with Vaara and others is where do you cross the line and enter into the land of bigotry? For people like me who grew up in the United States, there was where I lived little tolerance for racism. In Finland it is being tested. Do you think it is ok to insult other groups? Is this racism? Why do some say things about immigrants that they’d never imagine saying to their own group? Is that crossing the line? In many cases it is.

      What we are seeing in Finland is that we are testing those limits. I personally believe that society should, life wife beating, have zero tolerance for any type of bigotry.

      But let me make a matter clear: multiculturalism isn’t an ideology like communism. The claim by Veera is like another absurd one made by anti-immigration groups that Finns are indigenous and immigrants colonizers. Multiculturalism is a social policy that came from Canada. There is no Das Kapital or Grundrisse that puts multiculturalism as a political manifesto. Multiculturalism is different from each country. How it is applied in Canada is different from Australia and Britain. Another fact is that Finland isn’t even officially a mulitcultural country. I challenge you to find that word in our Constitution and laws. Like all things related to anti-immigration groups in right-wing populist parties, they make up their own worlds by redefining terms like multiculturalism to fit their narrow views.

      In my opinion, if you are against multiculturalism if we defined the term in a Finnish sense, ie a society made up demographically of many cultures with a dab of social policy (our civil rights), you are for denying other people of different backgrounds their basic civil rights. So the question is if it is ok to spread urban myths about immigrants in order to make an excuse to water down their basic civil rights.

      Is this ok? Definitely not.

    • Enrique

      –YLE for one is legislated to promote multiculturalism?

      Where does it say this?

  3. Seppo


    Pitää tietysti muistaa, että meillä on vähemmistöryhmiä ilman maahanmuuttajiakin. Esimerkiksi saamenkieliset uutiset on sellaista monikulttuurisuutta, jota saa minun verorahoilla kernaasti tukea. Sama koskee ruotsinkielistä ohjelmatuotantoa.

  4. Mary Mekko

    Intolerance is a natural phenomenon going in all directions around the globe. IN a city like San Francisco, no matter your origin, you will run into some very funny assumptions about your behavior. For example, years ago, I worked in an all-Chinese company, which hired new immigrants, mostly women, for electronic assembly line work. My job was temporary, as receptionist, even separated from the Chinese executive and adminstrative staff (mostly men). Chinese women were skittish with me, which I attributed to language problems, and of course their fear of offense, as is proper in new immigrants to our country.

    The first week, the manager told me that we get a free lunch all together on Fridays. “Great!” I said. Who doesn’t like Chinese food in SF? The first Friday came, and he led me proudly to an inside table with sandwiches. There was no one there but me and two (nonchinese) salesmen. Trying to be polite, I asked, “You don’t serve Chinese food? I really love Chinese food.” He looked very happy and said, “Of course, but we thought you don’t eat it!”

    Okay! So now I join the hundred or so workers enjoying a huge buffet, who stare at me in wonder as I eat with them, with chopsticks. These women are smiling and motioning at me to eat more. One speaks some English and asks, “Are you married?” I said, “No, not yet.” Then they ask where I live. “In the city.” They want to know EVERYTHING about my life, since they never had spoken to one nonchinese women before. When I admitted I lived with my parents and brother, they really started smiling and chattering, staring at me with admiration.

    Apparently, these poor women had been brainwashed into thinking that all nonChinese women were free and independent sex creatures who did as they pleased, while they did not. That I lived at home put me, in their eyes, high above “most American women”. How to explain that I’d moved back home to save some money, and then to move out? Best not to say so, and just let them believe I was devoted to my family…

    From that point on, I was a very popular employee, with bosses and workers always smiling and greeting me, always happy to see me in the hallways.

    The point of this story is clear: all groups are brainwashed and therefore intolerant. They can only learn by real contact with the individuals they’ve been taught to fear or look down on. If a Somalian comes to Finland and he/she thinks that Finnish women are too sexually free, which no doubt the Somali does think, then that person should TALK to Finnish women, not shun them, consider them “bad”. I spoke to many foreign men in Finland in the 1980’s who considered Finnish women in general very immoral, too sexually free, out of control. Did they have contact with the women? Yes, but only sexually… they didn’t understand real conversations and respecting a woman as a person, due to their own cultural bias.

    Multicultural struggles will never end. This blog could go on until the end of time. Native tribes have slaughtered each other throughout Europe, Asia, North and South America and Africa since time immemorial.

    I personally don’t think any solution can be dictated from above. What if the Chinese (male) boss at that SF company demanded by edict that the (female) workers be nice to me, the “foreign devil woman”? No way! They would grit their teeth in a fake smile in that case.

    It had to come spontaneously from real contact, and only when not by forced integration. The US cities suffered enormously in the 1960’s and 1970’s with federal edicts. Whole neighborhoods were destroyed by the “white flight”, familes leaving cities to avoid gun-to-the-head solutions of mixing groups. Nonblacks of all cultural backgrounds were forced to learn “black history”, while the average black kid we Irish or Italians met did not give one hoot about our culture, language, music, dance, cuisine or traditions. Nor were those black American kids FORCED to learn about us, no, the other way around! What kind of unfair baloney is that to shove down a populace’s throat?

    Somalians should embrace to the max every part of Finnish culture. It is the only solution for a new immigrant, to learn to love the country, Finland, that he or she choose to live in. If they find the Finns unwelcoming, they must make the first move, not the Finns. The Finns are living their lives, prefer to be unperturbed, and rightly so, as they pay taxes. The Somalian who does not work and lives off Finnish sweat must expect to play the grateful and humble welfare recipient, as would befit any displaced person getting charity. If they don’t wish to play the game, cut the welfare, put them straight to hard work – road building, cleaning, etc. – and be only giving the minimum in food coupons, with crowded and uncomfortable housing. Immigrants should understand that their future depends on them, not the Finnish taxpayer’s sweat. If they wish to leave, fine, but their rights only go so far if they are dependents. No tolerance for crime, street harassment of Finnish women, or defacement of property in any way… then quick and fair punishment to drive the message home that they have arrived in a good and safe and fair country, not a looney bin like the USA. Later, they and their children will understand why strict measures were used to assimilate them, for the most rapid and happy integration. Above all, Finns will not be so angry at them, and appreciate their sweet and willing labor, good behavior.

    Dr. Seuss wrote a book called “THE BUTTER BATTLE BOOK” for kids. Read it!