Finland’s Draconian immigration policy today has its roots in the Cold War era

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Sound policies aim at producing good results. Bad policies made with malicious intent only bring suffering and disaster.

The quote sits well with Finland’s Draconian immigration and asylum policy. The number of undocumented migrants has soared from an estimated 300. Those who are lucky enough to get a residence permit can say goodbye to ever bringing their loved ones to this country because family reunification requirements were tightened.  In sum, the Finnish government and the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) have done everything possible to make their lives as miserable as possible and expel them from here.

You don’t have to be an expert on immigration policy to understand how we have arrived at this shameful juncture. Even if the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* – today Blue Reform, or the “new” Perussuomalaiset – was primarily responsible for the tightening of immigration policy, such policies were backed by its two partners in government, the Center Party, and National Coalition Party.

In Argentina, the Finns founded a colony in 1906. Even if life was hard, they weren’t threatened with deportation as many asylum seekers are today in Finland. That goes for the majority of the over 1.2 million Finns who emigrated from this country. It is sad that Finns don’t learn at school about this fact, which was efficiently whitewashed and confined to a few festivities. The Malinen family is posing in front of their farm in Argentina in the 1920s. Photo: Lahja Malinen.

Even if the government has tightened immigration policy, opposition parties like the Social Democrats haven’t distanced themselves from such policies but supported them with their near-silence.

In the spring of 2016, the Social Democrats voted in their majority to do away with granting residence permits on humanitarian grounds. One of the Social Democratic MPs to vote in favor of this measure was Nasima Razmyar, a former refugee. This law (2/2016) is responsible for the high number of undocumented migrants.

The only parties that voted against the law were the Left Alliance, Greens and Swedish People’s Party.

Why so much animosity towards asylum seekers? I believe it has to do with Finnish history and education that teaches from a very young age nationalistic myths and be suspicious of foreigners and people who are different from the white Finnish-speaking majority.

While it may surprise many, the Cold War era for Finland (1944-91) reinforced official suspicion of outsiders. There was a time in our short history as an independent nation when foreigners were deported without any right to appeal, were prohibited from buying land, establish businesses in key sectors of the economy, organize demonstrations, among other human rights violations.

Even if in a different context, the total disregard for asylum seekers’ safety we see today was a part of Finnish policy in the Cold War, when Soviet asylum seekers were returned against their will to face harsh punishment in the USSR.

Is it here where Finland wants to return?

If so, we’re going to put up a hell of a fight!

* After the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13 into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity.  One is more open about it while the other is more diplomatic. 

A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.

  1. juhis88

    I don’t know about how Finns were treated at Argentina, but in the USA Finns faced quite a bit of discrimination. Finnish people were not considered white and there were laws that limited annual number of how many Finns (and other non-white people) can move in the USA. Or at least they tried… there was a debate on if Finns are white or not.

  2. irene F

    Home is where the heart is and my heart is in Finland with my only child and grandchildren!

    I’m forced to leave the country for 90 days out of every 180 days. The problem is that I have no home to go to for those 90 days, my home is in Finland now and I want to go home. My daughter and grandchildren want me home.

    How do you explain to children ages 2,4&5 years why grandma has to leave for a long time. This policy is inhumane, not just to this old lady but to my Finnish grandchildren.