Why is the immigration debate in Finland so distorted?

by , under Enrique

Here’s a question that needs serious debating in Finland: If refugees account for a minority of all immigrants, why do they get so much attention in the media? Why do anti-immigration parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS) constantly speak of them and give us the impression that all of Finland’s immigrants are mostly refugees and Muslims living off social welfare? 

In 2012, a total 3,129 asylum-seekers came to Finland compared with 3,089 in the previous year, according to the Finnish Immigration Service (FIS). Of these, about half (1,601) got accepted as refugees last year.

So why the distortion? It shows that those who oppose immigration, or cultural diversity, will distort, exaggerate and lie to drive home their point.

The strategy that anti-immigration groups use resembles me taking pedophile crime statistics and preposterously claiming that all Finns are pedophiles.

Kuvankaappaus 2013-8-30 kello 21.52.45
Read full 2012 annual report here. The majority (64%) of immigrants are from Europe, followed by Asians (20.5%) and Africans (9.1%).

The amount of refugees that we take in annually is tiny. In neighboring Sweden, there were a total of 43,900 asylum-seekers in 2012.

As a country, we should be ashamed of ourselves. Finland has committed itself to take in 750 quota refugees annually. The last time we filled that quota was in 2003, when we accepted 749 refugees.

Every year after 2003 we’ve missed the 750 quota target: 734 in 2012; 626 in 2011; 634 in 2010; 727 in 2009; 737 in 2008; 727 in 2007; 676 in 2006; 690 in 2005; and 679 in 2004, according to FIS.

One of the reasons why we haven’t been able to take 750 quota refugees annually is stiff opposition from municipalities. The PS, for example, campaigned in the municipal elections that municipalities should not accept refugees.

Having grown up in the United Sates, Argentina  and studied culturally diverse countries like England, Canada, Australia, Brazil and others, I do not understand how somebody can claim that immigration is a burden on society. If immigration fuels growth in these countries, it spurs growth in Finland as well.

An OECD study published in June claimed that immigration boosted economic growth in Finland in 2011 by 0.16%.

Those who disagree with the OECD’s claims can take a close look at countries like the United Sates, Canada and Britain, which have large immigrant populations, and ask why they have the most powerful economies in the world.