Undocumented migrants in Finland: Päivi Nerg lives in denial, politicians live in denial as do the media and most of the country, too

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Finnish immigration policy in general and asylum policy, in particular, is a good example of the decades-long suspicion that Finland’s political establishment has of outsiders. If some words could be used to describe the present state of things, it could be “not my problem” and “denial.” 

That statement, not my issue, reveals a lot about ourselves as a society and our capacity to live with difference.

The ongoing debate in the media about undocumented migrants is a case in point. Few if any newspapers blame the ever-growing number of undocumented migrants on the politicians who voted in favor of doing away with in April of residence permits on humanitarian grounds.

By doing away with this option, parliament forced the number of undocumented migrants to rise from a few hundred to the thousands. In other words and in plain English, the politicians and government have created the ever-growing undocumented migrant problem in Finland.

We all know that populism means simple solutions to complex problems. The government, which comprises of the Center Party, National Coalition Party (NCP), and Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, believes in simple solutions to complex problems in areas like migration.

The vote to do away with residence permits on humanitarian grounds is a case in point. Lobbied by the PS, the Center Party and NCP voted – together with the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats in the opposition – to do away with such a clause.

Naively, irresponsibly, ignorantly and with a dose of self-deception, the government believed that by doing away with residence permits on humanitarian grounds would solve the problem. It did not solve any problem but worsened it. In the government style, the blame for their incompetence is blamed on the victim, or in this case the asylum seeker.

Thanks to too much complacency in the media that too many continue to have major blind-spot issues with immigration, migrants and asylum seekers, officials like Päivi Nerg can appear and say with a poker face that she “is concerned about the security risk that illegal [sic] immigrants pose,” according to a story by Helsinki Times.

Read the full story here.

Apart from using the term “illegal” incorrectly (the Nazis made the Jews “illegal” in the 1930s and we know where that led to), there is no mention in the Helsinki Times about Nerg criticizing politicians for their short-sightedness and leaving the fate of tens of thousands people to chance.

Disagree? How has a party like the PS become “normal” despite its clear bursts of racism and bigotry among its ranks? How can politicians from such a party, which sits in government, not get sacked from the PS after being sentenced for ethnic agitation? How can two mainstream parties, the Center Party and NCP, support the openly racist and populist anti-immigration policies of the PS?

How can we continue to tell visible migrants in Finland in light of this that we are a society built on social equality when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth?

It’s called denial and Finland continues to have a heavy dose of it.

UPDATE (12:38): Four ministries headed by the PS (ministry of justice and employment), NCP (interior ministry), Center Party (ministry of economic affairs and employment and the ministry of the environment) require through a new regulation that health officials and doctors must tip off the authorities if they are treating an undocumented migrant.

One wonders if the latter requirement as a means to clamp down of undocumented migrants in Finland is illegal and unconstitutional.

For more on the topic, read (in Finnish) Saku Timonen’s blog here.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party 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. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”