Riikka Purra – M.S. Political Science, the Finns Party Policy Planner – Finns Party’s ‘Workmen’s Discussion Hour’, February 22, 2019
Good morning and welcome to the media representatives here as well as to the viewers and listeners around Finland.
The Finns Party is today introducing its ‘Immigration Policy (Maahanmuutopolitiikka).’ This publication follows in the path of previous papers on –
– Economic Policy (Talouspolitiikka)
– Social Policy (Sosiaalipolitiikka)
– Education Policy (Koulutuspolitiikka)
– Environment and Energy Policy (Ympäristö- ja Energiapolitiikka).
[All may be seen on the Finns Party website – ‘Perussuomalaiset.fi’ – in Finnish]
During this talk, I’d like to present the basic immigration policy of the Finns Party. I’ll begin with what the policy is and what are its goals. I’ll then outline the reasoning behind these goals – and conclude with telling the measures with which the party is planning to achieve those goals.
The overall aim of the policy is to eliminate the harmful (and, at the same time, costly) immigration to Finland. This immigration is happening under the label of so-called ‘humanitarian immigration.’ The various ‘sub-headings’ are, inter alia, –
– asylum seeking,
– family reunification
– burden-sharing (with other nations),
– refugee quotas.
While the above list covers the types of immigration that the Finns Party considers the main part of harmful immigration, another significant problem is taking place with what is termed ‘work-related’ immigration. Unfortunately – in the opinion of the Finns Party – this ‘work-related’ migration is actually an attempt to get cheap labour that affords lower working conditions than what Finnish workers have fought for over the years and now expect.
Up until the year 2016, Finland had one of the highest rates of acceptance of migrant asylum applications in Europe. Finland was pretty much helpless in the face of the flood that occurred in 2015. Indeed Finland’s highest level of decision-makers was extremely passive and even Finland’s prime minister was inviting Iraqis to come to Finland and be his house-guests!
There are less migrants coming now but the actual problem is still there – not having been solved and/or removed. Finland and Finnish society is now becoming inextricably tied to the phenomenon of immigration and it is also becoming very expensive. If, and when, the flow from Africa, the Middle East or somewhere else begins, Finland will once again be helpless. The likelihood of this happening is very high as the developing countries are full of people wanting to come to Europe – and other Western countries. No massive influx is actually ‘needed’ – Finland is already faced with an unacceptable number.
The immigration issue is now being brought to attention by other political parties as Finland draws closer to the Finnish parliamentary elections which will be in April. I will remind everyone that the Finns Party has not tried to be all things to all people on the topic of immigration – but has been consistent in keeping to its previously stated principles on this matter.
The Finns Party is NOT opposed to people having an international perspective or to people from outside Finland. The party is, rather, opposed to immigration that is economically, socially, culturally or otherwise harmful to Finland and its values. People that want to integrate into Finland and live by the long-established values here AND who want to be a productive part of building the society and are responsible taxpayers are most welcome. Here we are speaking of highly-educated people with special skills. Unfortunately, there have not been that many of those people and, rather, Finland has been attracting different migrants. And at the same time, the highly educated academic Finns (supported by Finnish taxpayer funds) are emigrating and their place taken by uneducated, even illiterate, immigrants.
Before someone protests that the Finns Party is dividing people into two groups of either useful or harmful, let me tell I am talking about matters at a ‘general system’ level – and am not referring to any particular individuals. The process of ‘asylum’ and ‘immigration,’ in fact, does not work – EVEN for moral or genuine humanitarian reasons. If one wants to really help, there are much more effective and efficient means.
When the amount of harmful immigration into Finland is radically reduced – in line with our goals, we are ready to support people in problem areas, or near to them and also with the establishment of refugee camps – through a new and effective system of development and humanitarian aid. Helping on the ground is not only economically more sensible, but also ethically consistent, as it is opposed to the misuse of an asylum institution which is used as a means of migration. In this case of a different system, resources can be realistically targeted at those in need and we can forget the huge immigration industry and bureaucracy that, in Finland, with the taxpayer’s money, endlessly tries to integrate, nurture and help young men arriving in our country.
We are also not ready to spend money on mining projects, etc. going on from one decade to another or on states that do not even take their own returning citizens. We want effective financial assistance, but only when harmful immigration to Finland has been essentially eliminated. Next week, we will introduce measures – legislative proposals – to promote this ‘assistance reform.’
The Background to the Problem – the ‘Why’ for the ‘Policy’
When setting out a politically ambitious target, it is imperative for the Finns Party to present the background for its position. Let’s start with a few statistics and some demographic trends.
The present rates of immigration and natural population growth are already on pace to change Finnish society – without accounting for any possible future surges of immigration. The increase of the population of Finland is mostly resulting from immigration as the natural birth rate in Finland has been continually decreasing.
The latest studies show that immigration is affecting the structure of the Finnish population at an even quicker speed than previously. For example, it is expected that in 16 years, one-third of the residents of Espoo, Finland’s 2nd largest city, will speak other languages than Finnish or Swedish (Finland’s official languages.) The largest groups will come from Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. The number of Estonians – a significant group in recent years – is already decreasing.
By the year 2053, Finnish and Swedish speakers will be a minority. Similar numbers exist for Helsinki (largest city) and Vantaa (4th largest).
All Finns should go for a visit – several times a year – to the areas where immigrants are concentrating in the Helsinki metropolitan area (includes the cities of Espoo and Vantaa). I am personally sure that Finnish people outside this area will not believe the number of ‘hijabs, nigabs and burkas’ they see and the number of shops selling them. They’ll also see a multitude of ‘halal’ butcher shops – and they will notice the number of Finnish-looking will be decreasing.
They should also visit the areas in this region where there are what are considered ‘good’ and middle-class neighbourhoods – neighbourhoods where the political decision-makers are living and putting their children in ‘good’ schools and kindergartens – and where they are emphasizing the richness of ‘multiculturalism.’
Our research shows that the further away the origins of immigrants and the more diverse their cultures, the more difficult societal integration will be for them. Those migrants with a particularly strong ‘group identity’ in terms of culture, religion or language, have more difficulties with successful employment than those who have a less ‘binding’ identity.
Those migrants coming into Finland under the auspices of international asylum and refugee agreements are clearly more problematic with regard to both their employment rate and as to their overall economic impact on Finland when cost-benefit net outcomes are looked at. Migrants from Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq are showing the most negative results. The Finns Party will be publishing these statistics in the next days – it’s our firm belief that after seeing this data, no one will be saying that we are talking about ‘peanuts.’
The management of government finances and fund-expenditures is pretty much a ‘zero-sum game’ – an amount spent for one thing is almost always requiring a reduction applied to another use of the same amount of funds. Politicians should be asked to tell from where they are taking the money used for immigration – is it away from the elderly, children, the disabled, the unemployed, the under-employed Finns? Just where and from whom?
If the goal of this immigration and refugee situation is really to help, the Finns Party believes such assistance can be done in much better ways. We’ll be back next week with our proposals – ‘stay tuned!’
The economic problem of immigration is not confined to just those migrants coming to Finland under the aegis of international refugee legislation but is also a ramification of the work-related immigration which is – mostly – a ‘cover’ for obtaining cheap labour willing to work for also lower working conditions. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many of the migrants who end up getting government subsistence subsidies are residing in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area where costs are especially high – thus necessitating higher government expenditures. Work-related immigration is supported by many who see economic benefits for themselves and are not concerned with the moral relation to the asylum and refugee humanitarian immigration situation.
It’s worth to recall that a few months ago, the Finns Party published a study that found for those migrants getting less than 3000 Euros a month, they will drop under the average Finnish employment rate within a few years. Remember! These are people who came to Finland for a ‘waiting job’ – thus they were 100% employed (as a group) at the start! So after only a few years they find themselves below the Finnish average with regard to the employment picture. The media – for some reason – did not find it newsworthy to tell about this finding.
It is misleading then to think that even work-related immigration would help the employment rate, the age-related dependency ratio, the resource sustainability gap or – overall – just be economically beneficial. Of course, a source of cheap labour is useful for cleaning and construction entrepreneurs, for messenger and restaurant service company owners but not for Finland and the Finnish citizen.
With regard to the effects of immigration, it is more or less irrelevant as to whether a person comes as an asylum seeker, as a refugee under the quota amounts or as an unskilled or low-skilled worker.
Nevertheless, the effects themselves touch almost all sectors of the economic and social landscape – and every Finnish citizen. The Finns Party believes that the Finnish social security system is meant, first and foremost, for the Finnish citizen. The party’s chairman, Jussi Halla-aho, has reported that the recent Gallup poll shows the Finnish population strongly agrees with that opinion. To a significant degree, the welfare and well-being of Finns is getting caught in the trap of immigration. As a glaring example, over forty percent of recipients of income support in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area have immigrant backgrounds. Why should Finland want to import more problems of deprivation and disadvantage? Shouldn’t Finland be correcting the problems it already has?
Additional resources for social integration don’t help – they haven’t helped in any other place. Second-generation employment is even lower than the first-generation – and, moreover, the risk of social dependency and exclusion is higher.
Beyond economic and demographic reasons, immigration should be reduced when we think of the need for security. The Finns Party does not want to continually update the statistics on sexual crimes against children and adolescents but reduce them. When one looks at the statistics for these kinds of crimes committed by immigrants, a simple calculation yields the conclusion that the lower the number of immigrants, the lower the number of those crimes. And further, Finland has enough to do to keep the ‘home-grown’ Finnish criminals in check.
The ‘How’ of Reducing Immigration
In order to reduce the amount and effect of immigration, the Finns Party wants that the effective validity periods of residence permits for asylum-seekers and recipients of welfare subsidies are subject to stricter terms of approval. They are presently given on a temporary basis for four years – and then, in practice, automatically renewed to a permanent status. These procedures must be tightened up and subject to more investigation and consideration. The granting of a residence permit on an asylum/refugee basis should not mean life-long permission and welfare subsidization. Such permits must be made revocable. If these migrants that have gotten permits are able to go ‘home’ on holiday or send their children back to get ‘home country culture and language,’ then their right to asylum ends. It should be sufficient for revocation if there are places in that country that are ‘safe’ – even if a particular area might not be. Internal migration in the ‘home country’ should be considered as a reasonable and viable solution.
Return migration and stricter immigration regulations and control in Finland can go a long way to prevent further immigration problems.
Similarly, the granting of Finnish citizenship must be subject to much tighter residence requirements and other conditions.
The Finns Party believes that a negative decision for asylum should mean a negative decision. Not so – at present in Finland. The system allows for what seems to be an infinite number of appeals – together with what can be termed as ‘abuses’ of the judicial system surrounding the concept of ‘asylum.’ One cannot blame the refugees for wanting a higher standard of living – but it is the present system which is being used to advantage and that is where changes should happen. The number of appeals must be limited and the entire process accelerated. Finland should look to other countries – such as Austria – which have been more successful.
The Finns Party’s most important requirement is that those migrants getting negative decisions must be placed in detention. The only way they should be able to be released from detention is to be officially deported from Finland. The stabbing attack in the Finnish city of Turku would have been prevented had there been a detention process enforced. An effective detention system is also a powerful deterrent – migrants with negative decisions will leave on their own – and others will not be coming to Finland unless they are reasonably sure to get approval.
Some detention ‘critics’ point out that detention facilities and processes will be expensive. The Finns Party believes it is a loose immigration policy that is much more expensive – and there physical attacks and death is involved, one cannot think in monetary terms.
The present Finnish government has tightened up the conditions for migrant family-reunification programs – but the changes have been modest. The number of family reunifications has more than doubled in the last decade. The Finns Party wants the person in Finland applying to bring their family from abroad to be required to have a longer period of Finnish residence than now and to show a higher level of income. These requirements would hold as well for those who have gotten Finnish citizenship – and the income requirement cannot include government social subsidies which now is the case.
An important facet of Finnish immigration policy is happening directly on the Finland’s borders. The legal consequence of actually entering Finland changes matters markedly in terms of processes and rights, etc. Therefore, Finland must do what it can not to tempt people to cross the border and ‘try their luck.’ Thought must now be given to developing effective measures to prevent any future ‘surges’ such as happened in 2015. These measures should be available even during non-crisis times. It should also be said that Finland is not required to accept asylum and refugee migrants from Sweden. All international legislation, now in force, would consider Sweden as a ‘safe’ country and there would be no reason for migrants to leave for Finland.
Tightening up Finland’s border policy is an effective way to help stem immigration and prepare for any possible future waves of migrants.
The Finns Party’s immigration policy also considers social and cultural issues that are having effects from immigration – especially matters related to the practice of Islam. The Finns Party believes that there should be a ban – in public places – of wearing ‘burkas, hijabs and niqab’ apparel – and the wearing of similar scarves on little girls. The party feels they are inappropriate – and would point to Denmark which banned these articles last year.
Similarly, forced marriages, genital mutilation, forced religious indoctrination of children must be effectively sanctioned – not just criminalized. Parents are responsible for the well-being of their children – if genitals are mutilated, the parents must be punished. Violence and anti-gender actions must not be tolerated as they are considered abhorrent in Finland – and practice of such should affect the granting of residence permits.
Thanks for your attention to the Finns Party’s immigration policy and its context.