The best medicine against xenophobia is to open the doors to immigration

by , under Enrique Tessieri

A total about-turn in immigration policy would be a massive blow to xenophobia and the climate of suspicion that presently exists in Finland. Contrarily the more restrictions you erect against migrants and cultural diversity the more myths and prejudices you’ll need to keep up those walls.

Those walls aren’t friendly at all but hostile with a huge sign: Do not enter but if you do we’re going to make your lives difficult. We will make up urban tales about you to keep you imprisoned in our prejudices indefinitely.

Everyone of us are, were or came from a migrant background. Migration is a powerful force. Migration is beautiful and the factor that makes humans excel. Thank you Glenn Robinson for the heads-up!

Some parties in Finland like the Perussuomalaiset* (PS) and Social Democrats (SDP) are in favor of keeping closed Finland’s labor markets to skilled migration from outside the EU. They claim that since there are so many unemployed Finns should have priority – and in theory EU nationals – before offering allowing migrants from outside the EU to fill such jobs.

This is a good point but a very unfair one because unemployment and labor markets don’t work in such a simple fashion. How long would it take to train a jobless person into a new profession and for that person to become one of the best in his or her profession? How long would it take to train a medic? A computer scientist? An entrepreneur with innovative ideas?

Such arguments by the PS and SDP only fuel hostility towards migrants, especially those that live in the country. It makes it harder for them to find work since the labor market is divided into “us” and “them.”

All that these types of arguments do is to shift blame for high unemployment on migrants from the politicians who are at fault but hide their culpability with the help of xenophobia.

A lot of the xenophobia and the anti-immigration thunder of parties like the PS would suffer a big blow if Finland started to think more openly about migration and cultural diversity. The only way it would do this is by openly promoting such a policy.

Today too many Finns see migration as a problem. That argument is what keeps those high walls upright.

If we had a more open immigration policy and openly invited more migrants to this country and made them feel welcomed and at home, the country would have as well a much better chance of integrating them successfully into our society.

If we persist with our negative attitude about cultural diversity and continue to victimize and blame unfairly migrants for our country’s problems it’s clear that the biggest loser will be Finland.

And that is exactly what we are suffering from at this moment.



The Finnish name of the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.


  1. Yossie

    So basically you think opening the doors wide open for immigration will make people change their opinion about immigration? That is your assumption right? You have actually no guarantees for that to happen. When talking about immigration, Sweden is actually a good example to study. They have open door policy to immigration. Even opened the doors wide open for Syrians (if they manage to get to Sweden that is). Has it been a blow to “xenophobia”? Sweden Democrats have got more votes every election.

    Swedish have been really open about immigrants getting to Sweden. Saying anything otherwise have been socially unacceptable. Has it made things right? I do not think so. There is has been riots and unemployment is sky high in immigrant suburbs.

    You say you want Finland to be more open to immigration. I would like to know what exactly you mean by that? More open to uneducated and illiterate migrants? Not only would we then need to educate them and make them best in their field, but also teach them language and culture.

    You seem to think having immigrant control is making people have negative opinion about migrants. It is actually other way around. We have negative opinion about free immigration and that is why we have immigration policy. Why do we have negative opinion? Personally I fail to see how Finland would benefit from having free immigration.

    Problem in Finland is that we have good social security but high taxes. This affects the immigration profile we get. Why would a successful immigrant come here? To pay those high taxes for social security and education he does not need? There is a reason why US gets the lion share of the skilled immigration and Europe gets the unskilled one.

    Another problem I see is the cultural diversity you keep praising is not a positive in my opinion. Not only is the problematic immigration from Africa and middle-east unskilled, it also has less than desirable cultural background in my opinion. Muslim countries of the region have turned into more and more religious compared to what they were decades ago. More about following the hardline religious rules and gender inequality. Personally I see where little to admire about those cultures. Very little what they have to give to us. While Muslims have achieved success fighting the use of alcohol, the way it has been achieved is not something that can be easily adapted in here. Or does someone think having religious order of not drinking alcohol and harshly punish you if you do, is something that fits to secular western culture?

    You always seem to imply that “islamophobia” or “xenophobia” are somehow irrational fears. Could it be instead that we see how failed these countries are and how they have failed exactly because of problems people themselves have caused, instead of for example natural disasters. Could it be that we don’t want our country to turn anything similar to those ones?

  2. Klay_immigrant

    -‘Muslim countries of the region have turned into more and more religious compared to what they were decades ago. More about following the hardline religious rules and gender inequality.’

    Yossie you forgot to mention that this has occurred despite many of those countries in the region being blessed by winning the natural resources lottery with oil and gas (discovered by the West), something nearly all European countries could only dream of. That gives an even more damning verdict on their culture as they themselves with no excuse of racism or discrimination in their own country couldn’t build a peaceful and prosperous society with plenty of money supply. Without that discovery their situation would be far more perilous, just look at Yemen as an example.

    • Migrant Tales

      Klay, if Yossie forgot to mention that the “region is blessed” with abundant oil and natural gas reserves, you forgot to mention the role of colonialism and hos the West has meddled in Middle Eastern politics. In Latin America the US helped destroy democratic institutions by promoting dictatorships and social inequality. Now those people are migrating en mass to the United States.

  3. Klay_immigrant

    Enrique I was expecting a reply from you referring to colonial or empire days as a reason for what I said. I’m not surprised as it’s a common tactic to defer and distract from the actual point that is being made. I spend far more time reading websites or books with opposing views to my own than ones I agree with, to see if there any any holes in my argument or if I’ve missed something. That’s why I read your blog despite disagreeing with nearly everything you or your associates write.

    Most countries have been fully independent, free of any direct Western Influence for the past 50-55 years including the Arab region. And guess what? The differences in the standard of living between developed countries and the Third World has increased and is continuing to increase every decade. So that in itself blows your argument wide open. If the trend was the opposite then you may have some substance but that’s not the case.

    For the record I don’t class hydrocarbon rich states as Third World because of money generated through oil/gas exports but in terms of democracy, human rights, freedom of the press, and gender inequality they are behind as any nation on Earth and that’s a pure reflection on their culture and society. Would you say these attributes are desirable and should be imported by to Europe?

    • Migrant Tales

      –Would you say these attributes are desirable and should be imported by to Europe?

      I don’t get your point. But I understand there is a civil war in Syria, Iraq has been through a terrible war (and still is), Somalia is a failed state.

      I disagree with your point of view. Maybe you should read Orientalism by Edward W. Said. I appreciate that you are one of our oldest visitors from 2011 or 2012. We disagree on almost all topics but have a nice day anyway.

    • Yossie

      “I don’t get your point. But I understand there is a civil war in Syria, Iraq has been through a terrible war (and still is), Somalia is a failed state.”

      All these are caused by the people themselves! Iraq is shit because sunnis, shias and kurdis could not live together tolerantly. Somalis could not live in peace with each other. In Syria islamists emerged strongest in attempt to replace dictatorship. Should you be surprised some people don’t see making multicultural society with these people such a great idea?

      “Maybe you should read Orientalism by Edward W. Said.”

      Why? I have not read the book but the overview I read said it was about how west saw “orient”. However, what does how we see/saw them has anything to do how they actually behave? If our orientalism has anything to do with how successful a country is, how did China, Korea and Japan have managed to do quite well?

  4. Medusa

    I am an immigrant here and have lived here for the past couple of years. Before I moved here I lived in the United States for a number of years. What I have observed here is that the quality of immigration is not the ‘usual type.’ What do I mean by the usual type? I mean migrants who are here for family relations, studies, job, business etc. While the ‘usual types’ are here they are in a minority when compared to the type that is a refugee. The refugee is normally seeking an asylum/refuge/shelter from their existing conditions, and thereby has not really moved to a new country with a plan. Many of the refugees here are unskilled or uneducated and worse still they unwilling to assimilate in the new culture. They stick to their old habits, beliefs and patterns. While there is no problem in following your tradition, the problem begins when the refugee starts to look down on the country and culture that gave them refuge.

    This is a huge, sensitive topic and I do not have much time on hand right now. But when we speak of multiculturalism then we have to consider a certain vibrant, progressive migration. A migration that brings educated, progressive like-minded folks together. That is multiculturalism and what is going on right now can be hardly considered that and seems to be crude attempt at it.

    Is there racism in Finland? Is there xenophobia in Finland? Let me swing this around and go back to my times in the United States and I am not white. On a few occasions in the US I have had all sorts of slurs and abuses hurled my way. And I am not talking about in the small towns or cities bacsue I always lived in the biggest cities there.
    Has any Finn abused me or cursed at me until now? No. Maybe I have been lucky? But I feel they don’t do that too often here? Yeah if you ran in to a drunk or rowdy group of drunks then maybe it si a different matter. One thing though is that Finns look at you in weird, unfriendly manner and maybe sometimes that is misunderstood as racism or xenophobia.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Medusa and thank you for your comment. Right off hand it doesn’t mean that since a person is a refugee he doesn’t have and educational background. Moreover, we humans learn new things. I personally know refugees who started studying from scratch in Finland and are now applying to get into university. Some are very focused and determined.

      In Finland, at least in theory, we don’t “assimilate” people, we integrate them into society. Assimilation is one-way adaption while integration is two-way adaption. The US is a highly racist society starting from slavery and I can imagine the problems you have had there. All you have to do is turn on the television and watch some series to note that most people in them are white. The United States is a good example of how some minorities like blacks and Hispanics have been excluded and disenfranchised by society.

      Multiculturalism, or cultural diversity, is a part of our lives. It’s the direct result of our globalized world. You cannot force people to be white or ask them to get plastic surgery in order to adapt. You cannot force them to change their religion, habits and culture. Certainly in integration this should be a two-way process.Finns that emigrated to the United States, like other immigrants, established cultural associations, Finnish-language newspapers, churches to help reinforce their identity. You do agree that one of the most important things about us as human beings in order to build self-esteem is to accept ourselves and love who we are. Building a strong identity helps us to accept others.

      I was surprised by your statement that “refugees don’t want to adapt.” How do you know that? Could you show me a study where this urban tale is confirmed? Immigration brings all types of people. Even so, the aim of immigration, I believe, is to offer opportunities so people can build and enjoy better lives than those they had in their former homelands.

      Would you like to tell us how you adapted and what was important to you in this respect?

  5. Medusa

    I don’t think I have adapted in the best manner possible, but that has to do with me as an individual too. I am too shy and hardly befriend new people, especially of they are the type that Finns are-i.e. shy and serious. Surprising thing was that in the US I was much more social, but then I spent a lot of years there and Americans in general are more friendly. I still think that for all of us migrants here, a clear plan as to what one wants to do is really essential. Without a clear plan what happens is that one gets involved in vicious cycle of being dependant on the system without actually being the one to take the initiative. I mean are we going to resign ourselves to a certain amount that the system doles out, or are we going to come in a with a plan to contribute? This is where progressive, vibrant multiculturalism comes in as was intended…..

    Many orthodox migrants here need to shed their old way of being and adapt to a new way of being. See we migrants have to walk half-way and then and only then expect the Finns to walk the other half across. It is mighty tough for a new to immigration country and people (such as Finland and Finns) to adapt to all the changes that are going around and then to throw at them all the typicality that many of us bring with our culture is in my opinion a way too far out.

    Now I do not even know what I have been blabbering! But yeah to recollect- we have to meet the Finns hal-way and only after that complain about not being accepted. And FINLAND and all of EUROPE is quite challenging to get accepted in to if one is not WHITE.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi Medusa I agree and thank you for your comment. Consider the Muslims. Haven’t they been in Europe since the seventh century? What about the Roma in Finland who have lived here for 500 years?

      Europeans are only “white” but a culturally and ethnically diverse group. We still have a lot of issues to tackle.

      Some would claim that even if migrants assimilated they would still not be accepted. I don’t think that my aim as a migrant is to abandon my identity or practice my culture in some dark place where nobody can see me.

    • Marshall Niles

      Well said! You put what many people think, into words, and thats a very smart thing to do. I’m going to be writing another article on Immigrants and their adapting into Finland. Would you like to work with me on that?

  6. Medusa

    No I didn’t say migrants need to abandon their respective identities and practice their culture in a dark place. What I did say is that many (and not all) migrants need to tone their typicality down and take a more moderate approach to a new culture. To keep a certain openness to a new culture, and learn. We can go on here about what needs to be done by both sides but the title of the article is suggested
    a random openness to immigration. I am against that, and I think to coexist peaceably a certain discrimination needs to be exercised as to who is brought in to a new country/culture. We don’t want criminals, terrorists, low life etc. walking in to a new country on the pretext of ‘open immigration policy.’ Of course refugees have and will seek refuge in more developed countries and the developed countries will have to do what it can to accept them, but even here some measure of discrimination needs to be exercised. I have heard under the guise of refuge, certain people have knowingly destroyed their passport , background history etc. and looked to move in to a new country. So yeah ‘yes’ to immigration with a discrimination and ‘no’ to random undesirable immigration.

    Would you the writer like if random migrants moved to your home country in huge numbers and their quality undesirable?

    • Migrant Tales

      -To keep a certain openness to a new culture, and learn. We can go on here about what needs to be done by both sides but the title of the article is suggested.

      I agree with you. Respect is a two-way street. Could you please give us a few examples of where migrants aren’t open to the a new culture? Do you think that the receiving society should be open to migrants as well?

      –a random openness to immigration. I am against that, and I think to coexist peaceably a certain discrimination needs to be exercised as to who is brought in to a new country/culture.

      Could you please elaborate. What kind of “discrimination” do you mean? Certainly attempting to enter as a refugee when you’re not is wrong.

      –Would you the writer like if random migrants moved to your home country in huge numbers and their quality undesirable?

      What are undesirable immigrants in your opinion? As you know, like in any society, there are all types of people.