How serious is the Future of Migration 2020 Strategy?

by , under Enrique

The more I think of the government’s published white paper on immigration policy made public on Thursday, the more I have reason to worry.  Apart from omitting altogether the term multiculturalism and cultural from diversity in the Future of Migration 2020 Strategy, your suspicions aren’t put to rest by the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK), which was critical of the policy statement. 

Riitta Wärn, an EK labor market specialist, said that the government white paper missed the mark.

“As someone who has been monitoring immigration policy for a long time, I don’t consider this to be a major change,” she was quoted as saying on YLE in English. “There’s not really anything surprising or new laid out in this policy.”

A comment I read on Facebook linked to Qbee Integrator  highlights Wärn’s frustration: “This people are so funny, I just imagine which young skilled immigrants they are talking about while they cannot employ young foreigners who graduated from their own Finnish high priced education system. People finish professional degrees, masters and PHD and they are subjected to shop cleaners and dish washers. Every year the country produces 10s of new immigrant Finnish graduates in nursing, health care and social services, only one 1% is employed on short term basis, yet we hear everyday that there are shortages.”

While the government should be commended for speaking out against racism and the importance of challenging discrimination in our society, one of the matters that shines through in white paper is the anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS) party.  Sadly it’s not its chairman, Timo Soini, that we see claiming there aren’t any racists in the party, but its far right anti-immigration pundits. 

Speaking out against racism is important but equally important is to remain focused and on our toes to distinguish between official lip service and actual deeds.

If omitting the term “cultural” from diversity raises some questions and makes it more acceptable to anti-immigration groups, another worrisome term used in the white paper is “controlled immigration.”

 “Uncontrolled immigration” is a byword used by far right and right-wing populist anti-immigration groups like the PS to keep the country white. In other words, we don’t want any Muslims, Africans and other visible immigrants to migrate and live with us. 

Another big question mark over this white paper is the credibility of Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen, whose conservative Christian and views on cultural diversity get in the way of good judgement.

How on Earth can a politician like Räsänen who considers homosexuality an illness, wants to make begging illegal,  sees nothing wrong with ethnic profiling by the police and wants to tighten family reunification laws and policy seriously wants to improve the situation of immigrants and visible minorities in Finland? 

Considering that Finland is a young republic which invested a great deal of energy in undermining immigration and foreign investment to Finland, turning it into a successful and dynamic “diverse” society will take more than just a white paper.

Read the white paper (in Finnish) here. An English-language version will be available after summer.

  1. JusticeDemon

    This government position statement is obviously something to be read carefully and digested over the next few weeks. My own very preliminary impression is that it broadly reconfirms the general principles that were outlined in the report of the Immigration and Refugee Policy Commission about 15 years ago.

    Many immigrants who arrived before the early 1990s still bear the scars of older arrangements that were, to put it kindly, generally of a makeshift character compounded by willfully incompetent implementation. However, it is important to understand how far we have come since those days. The mere fact that a government position paper on this policy area runs to 25 pages would be enough to astonish anyone working in Finnish public administration in the late 1980s.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      JD, I agree. The government has come a long way since the late-1980s. You and I know what it was like back then.