If there is a report, a story or some tale that sounds fishy it may suggest a red herring. One of these types of stories that should have received more scrutiny from the media was a report published Thursday by Perussuomalaiset (PS)* thinktank Suomen Perusta, which attempted to place a price tag on immigration.
There are a lot of questions that the 75-page report raises concerning methodology and why the study only mentions refugee, or quota refugee to be exact, once and labels all national groups as immigrants.
The Suomen Perusta report defines “immigrant” as any person who was born abroad but lives in Finland. Is this the definition that YLE uses in its story? We don’t know because YLE doesn’t tell us.
Does YLE define immigrant in the same way as the UN? The UN defines an immigrant as any person living in a country for over a year irrespective of the reason why he or she moved to another country.
An important question: Why does the PS use the term immigrant and only mentions refugee once? Certainly most Somalis that live in Finland came here seeking asylum. Even so, they are placed in the same group of “immigrants” with Germans, who are EU nationals.
True, the definition of immigrant could generally apply to Somalis but I think it is misleading especially in a study sponsored by an anti-immigration party like the PS.
What are we speaking of in the story? Immigration or refugee policy? Immigrants or refugees? One MP’s opinion or the whole party’s? It’s not clear. The Suomen Perusta report, like the story, raises more questions than answers. Read full story here.
One reason why there are so many questions in the YLE story is because there are a lot of them in the Suomen Perusta report.
Here are some:
- The Suomen Perusta report uses the term immigrant over refugee for groups like Somalis;
- The YLE headline states “immigration policy” but shouldn’t “refugee policy” be more exact?
- If the third vice president of the PS, Juho Eerola, gives an opinion is it only his or that of the party’s?
Michael McEachrane, a researcher and anti-racism activist in Sweden, said that when the term “immigrant” is used in Sweden it is often a euphemism for “non-white” or non-European and most immigrants to Sweden are refugees.
“I think that’s a part of their [Sweden Democrat] rhetoric, plus that what is essential to them is that regardless of ‘immigrants’ being refugees or not whose human rights and lives need protecting they are intruding and threatening the Swedish ‘nation,'” added McEachrane.
The red herring in the YLE story is that by grouping Somalis as “immigrants” it allows the PS to make a stronger case against giving people outside of the EU residence permits on humanitarian grounds. Does it reveal as well the PS’ negative stance against refugees since they claim that their only reason for coming here is to live off our generous welfare system? Absolutely.
Moreover using the term immigrant permits the PS to place a price tag on certain immigrant groups unfairly without even considering the reasons if the person is a refugee.
Reporters should have given this story more scrutiny and not take the word “immigrant” by the PS-sponsored report for granted.
* 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.
 Humanitarian protection as defined by the Finnish Immigration Service: “Reason for granting a residence permit. A permit is granted when the requirements for granting asylum or subsidiary protection are not met but the applicant is unable to return to his or her home country or country of permanent residence because of an environmental catastrophe occurring there, or because of prevailing poor security circumstances there which may be caused by armed conflict or a troubled human rights situation.”