Social Democratic interim report on immigration policy strengthens old fears of the outside world

by , under All categories, Enrique

The title of an interim report on immigration policy published by the Social Democratic Party on Friday not only reveals the party’s greatest fears but strengthens age-old views of outsiders.  Apart from the political malarkey that SDP sees immigration as an opportunity, it likes to use pet catchwords – like the populist anti-immigration True Finns – such as “managed immigration.”

How can a country aspire to have a successful immigration policy and speed the integration of these people into our society if its first and foremost aim is to be on the defensive? How can it show leadership and promote good ethnic relations if it labels future and present newcomers, as it does almost constantly, as second-class employees, tax-dodgers, guilty of fuelling racism and working illegally in a two-tier market?

Even though the report claims that one of SDP’s aims is to lower unemployment, what has the party done in the past 25 years to improve the labor situation of immigrants?

The sad fact is that political parties in Finland have done dear little for immigrants in the past. Unemployment figures speak for themselves: the jobless rate has gone down from about 54% in 1994 to an estimated 26% today.

One of the mentors and strongest allies of the SDP’s anti-immigration wing is MP Kari Rajamäki, who was interior minister in 2003-07. Just like Jarmo Rantanen, another hardline SDP interior minister in 1987-91, Rajamäki’s view on immigration is so far off the mark that under his leadership immigrants and refugees will always be a target of suspicion.

Social Democrat MP Kari Rajamäki. Source: Savon Sanomat

For a person who has lived many years and heard countless promises by politicians that immigrants’ rights in Finland will improve, I take with a large grain of salt SDP’s interim report, especially where it states that surveillance of the labor markets should be stepped up.  Racial profiling is one cause for alarm if the SDP gets their way.

One could rightfully ask as well why do we need new rules to scrutinize labor markets because more immigrants are moving to the country? No trust? Are Finnish workers honest and immigrants dishonest?

Taking into account the small size of the immigrant community in Finland and the fact that little has been done to improve their rights, what assurances do we have that anything will change if the Social Democrats are members of the next government?

The problem with the SDP interim report is one that has inflicted Finland throughout its history: Immigration and outsiders are basically seen as a threat.

One reason why Finland has such a small immigrant population is because some sectors still suffer from a bad case of xenophobia. Why would anybody want to move to such a country where the laws and atmosphere are generally hostile?

Apart from the few political sound bites in favor of  immigration, the SDP interim report should be seen as a disappointment and even a greater one in the context of a party that has shifted closer to the populist True Finns on immigration policy.

  1. JusticeDemon

    Hallittu maahanmuutto is normally translated as managed immigration.

    Semantics aside, this title says nothing at all really. The 1996 all-party commission on immigration and refugee policy (Maahanmuutto- ja pakolaispoliittinen toimikunta) called its 1997 final report Hallittu maahanmuutto ja tehokas kotoutuminen: ehdotus hallituksen maahanmuutto- ja pakolaispoliittiseksi ohjelmaksi., rather clearly illustrating that the expression “managed immigration” has no particular party political colour.

    Instead the expression comes from the very general notion that managing immigration is an inalienable function of any sovereign State with defined borders. Your own previous criticism of Finland for having no immigration policy amounts to an insistence that this aspect of government has been neglected, but that very insistence already presupposes that immigration must be managed in some way.

    I am still reading the document itself, but it doesn’t seem to say much that is in any way surprising or new.

  2. Hannu

    Ahh… see immigrant etc as threat how in hell someone would like to come…
    In USA immigration is under homeland security and has tight quotas, you may want to read more.

  3. Martin-Éric

    The sad part of this report is that SDP’s position pretends to prevent the creation of a second class of workers, in a situation where the messy worker’s permit system we have is precisely what maintains such a system of second-class workers in place. Either SDP is blind or purposely oblivious to its own idiocies. Whichever one it is, one can only wish them a quick road to obsolescence.