Kokoomus gives nod to Perussuomalaiset’s plan to tighten immigration policy

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) MP Pia Kauma wants to tighten immigration law. It is strange that when most Finns are on holiday in the middle of the summer, Kauma intends to propose such changes. 

Her party’s proposal should be seen as a green light to the Perussuomalaiset’s plan to tighten immigration policy if they win the next parliamentary elections in 2023.

While there is still a lot of work to make Finland a more inclusive country and tackle discrimination and racism, there is one problem with Kokoomus’ proposal: credibility.

Pia Kauma. Source: Eduskunta

For one, MP Kauma has little credibility to speak in earnest about immigration policy and integration, especially of people of color and visible migrants.

In 2014, Kauma started to attack Somali mothers. She pointed the accusing finger without any proof that at migrant mothers claiming that they bought with social aid new baby carriages while Finnish mothers bought used ones.

Kauma never backed her statements but at the end her claims were proven false and based on hearsay. She apologized later for her racist statements.

A satirical view below of how Kauma sees a migrant mother’s pram.

But what could be behind this stunt by Kauma and Kokoomus to tighten immigration policy? Is the party giving the nod to the Islamophobic Perussuomalaiset (PS)* that they too would be ready to tighten immigration policy if in government?

The heir-apparent of the PS, Riikka Purra, said earlier this month that it would never form part of a government that won’t significantly tighten Finnish immigration policy.

The PS is the biggest opposition party, with Kokoomus right behind.

When reading these types of suggestions by Kokoomus, one wonders if some politicians take seriously Section 6 of the constitution that guarantees that we are all equal before the law.

Source: Constitution of Finland

The success of Kokoomus’ nine-point proposal below faces constitutional and credibility issues. Section 6, for example, states that it is illegal to treat some groups differently, like having lower social welfare benefits.

The government can lower social welfare benefits, but it must apply to everyone.

Below are the nine-point program proposed by Kokoomus and some comments:

  1. Shorten (asylum) processes to a fraction of the current level. Asylum applications with appeal periods should be subject to a processing guarantee, ie the final decision should be completed within the processing guarantee period. Migrant Tales: Shorter appeal periods and the right to legal counsel were undermined by Prime Minister Juho Spil’s government in 2016 were overturned in June. Some asylum seekers have been waiting for up to six years for the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri) to decide on asylum cases. Too much red tape and little oversight.Migri is blamed by human rights groups in Finland for doing its job negligently. 
  2. Voluntary return support should be a more comprehensive service so that a person who has been the subject of a negative asylum decision deserves to take it. Current support has been too slow and not motivating enough to return. Migrant Tales: For many, the asylum process in Finland is a waiting game. Why would anyone who paid a lot of money and sacrificed years in Finland want to return to his war-torn country where there is little economic future?
  3. A condition for a permanent residence permit is a workplace and sufficient language skills and knowledge of Finnish society. Migrant Tales: A good point, but a too simplistic view. When we speak of knowledge of Finnish society, language is a crucial tool. It is not, however, a silver bullet. To promote adaption, Finland should do a lot more to make our society more inclusive, promote social equality and equity.
  4. Entitlement to full social benefits shall be based only on employment or a permanent residence permit. The salary must be enough to support oneself and one’s family without the social benefits provided by society. Migrant Tales: How do you do this without breaching the constitution? Similar attempts were tried in 2016 but were ruled unconstitutional. This proposal is a favorite of Finland’s populist and anti-immigration politicians of parties like the PS.
  5. Differentiate the social security of immigrants and native Finns, as proposed by the government in 2016, but by linking it to education, language skills and adequate knowledge of Finnish society and values. Prior to sufficient Finnish language skills and adequate training, social benefits, in this case integration support, would be 80 per cent of the level of unemployment security for the native population. When the targets are met, the 100 percent level will also be possible. Migrant TalesThe other questionable side of point four.
  6. Create a support ceiling. The Coalition’s sister party Moderates has proposed a subsidy ceiling of 75% of the Swedish minimum wage for immigrants. A similar model is being sought in Finland, proportional to the wage level in sectors that often employ immigrants (for example, trade) and Finnish social security. Migrant TalesThis is a disingenuous proposal from a party that has done little or nothing to promote inclusion and fairness in the labor market. 
  7. Introduce a program of measures for migrant women who are particularly vulnerable in the labor market. For example, counseling centers inform immigrant mothers about their rights and obligations to Finnish society without a man’s presence and supervision. Strengthen children’s early childhood education to learn the language and receive a snack for the future school path. Migrant Tales: A good point, but what are the real motives behind this plan? Can Kokoomus promote gender equality if it has no plan about how to make our society more inclusive? The party’s stand on social equality and equity of migrants is questionable.
  8. Designate mentors, support staff, and support families to support immigrants in student communities and companies. Migrant Tales: How can our society do this if politicians in parties like Kokoomus fuel anti-immigration sentiment. The propsal has been suggested ad infinitum. Why hasn.’t it happened on a much larger scale up to now? Why is it still a challenge for some foreigners to make friends with white Finns?
  9. The Minister responsible for labor migration, international students, and integration is elected to the Council of State. Migrant TalesWhy not? How would this improve matters? 

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