By Enrique Tessieri
If we look at the dismal amount of immigrants and refugees as well as high unemployment one can reach only one conclusion: a policy that has failed miserably. Certainly progress has been made: the number of immigrants has risen albeit slowly to 143,256 today from 12,670 in 1981, while unemployment has come down officially from 53% in 1994 to over 20%.
One of the biggest failures of our immigration policy is that it is really not an immigration policy at all but looks like a poorly assembled hall where newcomers are given a bit of schooling in the Finnish langauge and culture and then required to face the brave new world by getting a job.
The crux of the matter is that we are going to have to do a much better job if we want labor immigrants to fill jobs left by our ever-growing number of pensioners. One of the first steps in this direction is to offer more than a wham-bang-thank-you-mam approach to immigration.
Immigration is a powerful social force that can work to a society’s favor if it is done correctly. The basic starting point for a successful immigration policy is in the hands of the host society. If there is rejection, ignorance, bigotry and lack of opportunities such a policy will fail as it has today.
Another important aspect of a successful immigration policy is that it must have something more than the wham-bang in order to succeed. Those same values that unite Finns and make them proud of their society should rub off on immigrants.
What are these values? They are those in our laws and our compassion and suffering that we faced as a nation. It is in solidarity and opportunity – a real sense of community where we live together for the common good. The pathway to incorporation into Finnish society should be much faster than today.
Even though these types of values may sound as if they were from some imaginary place, it is the only way towards a successful immigration policy and sheds light why our integration policy has failed despite its good intentions. Offering no dreams and hopes to newcomers and marginalizing them is sowing the seeds of pesent and future discord.
What kind of a society are we offering newcomers if we jealously guard our dreams to ourselves?