It is surprising that one can hear these days in private conversation from some teachers and people working with immigrants and refugees that some national groups should never be brought to this country because they will never adapt to our way of life. “Why do they continue to bring them here?” some say.
Another affirmation that has surprised me for quite some time is the naive view that we can choose those that we like to move to this country and live happily ever after.
These two comments not only reveal a generous dose of ignorance about the dynamics of immigration and refugees but relfect their setbacks and frustration in teaching and working with immigrants and refugees.
If a person believes that fifty-year-old women from the Middle East should never be brought to this country refugees because “people of her kind will never adapt,” then we should, in all fairness, apply the same standard to Finns that are not adapted to society: the alcoholics, the long-term middle-aged unemployed, people who suffer from chronic depression as well as a long list of others.
When I asked one of the teachers what should be done, silence answered my question. I asked if we should round up all those we consider “maladapted and/or unadaptable” and deport them back to their war-torn countries? In the case of those Finns we consider marginal from society, should we also lock them up in some asylum or island and throw away the keys so they won’t bother us any longer?
A relative of mine once said that when one moves to a foreign country, one learns new things about oneself. In the same respect, immigrants and refugees are showing the positive and negative side of our society because it is being put to the test, sometimes under extreme condtions.
I believe that one of the major problems of our immigrant and refugee policy is littered with good intention but lacks a coherent policy. Newcomers are showing some positive and unsettling matters about our society such as bigotry and ignorance. It is also showing the most important matter of all: lack of clear leadership from those who should show the way to a successful immigration/refugee policy.