Finland’s hostile environment for migrants, asylum seekers, and all types of minorities

by , under Enrique Tessieri

At Migrant Tales, we are hearing more and more stories about the suffering and plight of undocumented migrants and how greedy companies are taking advantage of asylum seekers. Some of these that we have heard are asylum seekers working full-time in black for 500 euros a month and a promise that they will get hired as staffers, which would help them to get a residence permit. Or what about working 12 hours for 50 hours a day but only declaring 30 hours to the tax authorities?

While it is questionable that such a person would ever get a residence permit because of the needs test, or that the job is first offered to an EU citizen, the inequalities and exploitation found today in the Finnish labor market is the doing of our politicians. They have created the bait and lure for such exploitation to take place.

In the political rhetoric and crusade to make Finland unattractive to future asylum seekers, politicians have lost total sight of how their policies have weakened the rights of all migrants and other vulnerable groups. Their message is clear: It is ok if you are exploited in Finland. We don’t care because we do not want you here in the first place.

Like in the UK, Finland is presently gripped by a hostile environment against migrants and minorities.

In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May, when she served as home secretary (2010-2016), is credited for the government’s “hostile environment” policy towards undocumented migrants. Since you cannot keep hatred on a short leash and cause it to act selectively, that hostile environment has spread to the Windrush generation,  the first wave of immigrants who arrived in the UK in the 1940s and 1950s from the West Indies.

Even if May is responsible for this hostile environment, it was all part of a broader scheme to take voters away from UKIP, which based its then rising popularity on attacking and stigmatizing migrants.

The political opportunism in the Tory party’s anti-immigration rhetoric already costs the UK dearly. They are not only in its anti-immigration soundbites but in the fact that they believed they could control such a social ill and keep it on a short leash.

Epic fail.

Elsewhere in Europe as in countries like Finland, there is a hostile environment against migrants.

The hostile environment in Finland is possible thanks to the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* and by other mainstream parties, like the Center Party, National Coalition Party, Social Democratic Party, which give the same message but in a different langauge.

Amnesty International’s Annual Report 2016/17 highlights below some of the factors that created a hostile environment in Finland.

Source: Amnesty International Report 2016/17.

The Amnesty International Report reveals one example of how the present government of Prime Minister Juha Sipiläs has created the hostile environment. Tightening immigration policy for one group on racist grounds because you want to keep Muslims and Middle Easterners from coming to Finland, will not create a more open and inclusive environment for migrants and minorities in Finland.

It will kill such efforts and encourage Islamophobic and racist rhetoric by politicians because it furthers their political careers. All of this is on the misconceptions that migration – especially from outside the EU – is a threat to it.

But it is not only the government. Opposition parties like the Social Democrats have supported the tightening of immigration policy.

* 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.