Handling of the illegal migrant crisis in Finland

Off to a rough start

After parliamentary elections of 2015 in Finland the new coalition government began its work. Both welcomed and hated, it got called the bourgeois government. It consisted of three biggest parties. My party (The Finns) was the second biggest with its yet another election victory. Along with our nationalist party there were also the centre party and centre-right coalition party.

Lots of people like me were extremely happy for this new government. All the leftist and socialist parties were thrown out to the opposition. They could now only shout at us and witness some real politics. This new government’s plans were clear and great things were about to happen. But as it usually happens, not everything goes the way you want it to go.

There were two struggles about to start. One is the union battles and strikes and another one is the illegal migrants from outside of Europe. Sipilä (the PM) was determined to make the big changes to labor union policies, just like Margaret Thatcher did in UK. Unfortunately he did not succeed in this as the labor and the trade unions in Finland are immensely strong. Political pressure from all sides made Sipilä to back off and to let the unions make their own deals, under some conditions.

What the better start for a populist nationalist party in a government than a massive influx of illegal migrants to your own country in the first year? In 2015 over 30 000 ”refugees” from ”Syrian civil war” came in to Finland. First of all they came to Europe illegally and the second, they weren’t even from Syria. People came to Finland mostly from Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan. Still many leftist politicians cried out for these poor Syrian refugees.

There really wasn’t the way for us to stop the immigrants from coming in to Finland because of our laws concerning asylum seekers. Literally anyone could come to our border and say ”asylum” and gain entry. So many migrants especially from Iraq and Somalia came especially to Finland because our laws on family reunification weren’t very strict. Almost anyone could get an asylum and then get their family from their home country reunited with them. Therefore, dramatically huge amount of people we had to take care of.

Criticism from other nationalists

As in any coalition government, there is the fact that one really can’t fulfill all of the campaign promises. If you are one of three parties in coalition, you get only about one third of your initiatives through. The two other parties really weren’t as patriotic as our party so decision to fix the so called”refugee crisis” was slow and therefore many promises didn’t go through.

So many nationalists got angry at our party. Why are we letting all these Muslims in? Lots of small new nationalist groups began to emerge. Two, the most vocal ones were ”Rajat Kiinni” (Shut the borders) and ”Suomi Ensin” (Finland First). Mostly they held demonstrations in different cities and also near the border crossings. They didn’t believe that our party could change anything. There were also the Soldiers of Odin that patrol streets in major cities making sure the migrants don’t harass people.

I do understand their anger. Sometimes political parties promise too much and people are take things for granted. It is still politics and you have to get things happen democratically and with compromises. I just hope these smaller nationalist movements one day would rejoin our party because we are stronger together but having tiny and small movements isn’t going to work in the political system.

Solving the crisis

Taking in of all the huge amount of illegal refugees is a huge problem for Greece and Italy, but in Finland we were pragmatic. There was a big concentration center set up in Lapland where all the asylum seekers would have to wait for their placement into a asylum center. We didn’t let them roam free but handled the situation in a very orderly way. Lots of asylum centers were established all around the Finland.

As you can expect, this situation created the social problems. Many asylum centers were close to the city centers which allowed the cultural enrichment to happen. The amount of crimes done by immigrants grew rapidly. People started to get angry and something had to be done. At least in my home town of Lappeenranta the asylum center was set up in an old prison that was far away in the middle of forest. Migrants didn’t cause trouble in Lappeenranta.

The strategy to combat all this had three elements. First one was to make Finland less desirable for migrants to come in. With legislative measures we made it so much harder to get a family reunification and decreased social welfare for asylum seekers. This reduced Iraqi and Somali asylum seekers dramatically. Now they are going to another country where it would be easier to get your family also.

Second one was changing the conditions of getting asylum. There are safe places in Iraq and Somalia. The immigration office was forced to change the conditions and decided that Iraq and Somalia were safe countries or countries that have safe places, so getting an asylum for those categories of people became much much harder.

Third one was making the asylum process faster and decrease the chances to make an appeal when having the asylum status denied. With all these measures less than 30 % of asylum seekers actually got what they wanted. And some of these people left the country later. Many of the illegal migrants were told how great it was in Finland but the truth was different. Our culture is so different, winters are really cold and they didn’t like our food.

Last problem are the ones who have been denied asylum but still choose to remain in the country illegaly. These people will be eventually deported. The police is doing systematic deportations and the deportable individuals are escorted to planes and sent home.

All in all, the crisis cost us over a billion Euros and we still have to suffer from increased crime and more welfare recipients. Because of the overall atmosphere of politics, some of the illegal migrants will get to stay in Finland as long as they like and only time will tell if they will ever integrate into our society. My guess is that they will not.

How it should be solved and what next

If there will be enough political will, we could have just closed the borders for anyone without a passport. There is a tendency for these Muslims to lose their passports in the English canal and remember only as being a Syrian. Schengen area and Dublin treaty would have allowed us to put Schengen on ice because countries of Europe weren’t following Dublin treaty. The treaty says that asylum seekers must seek asylum in the first Schengen country they enter, so Finland could theoretically receive migrants from Russia only where they didn’t come in large numbers.

Even if these Muslims would have got inside the country, they all would have been put in the big centers in the middle of forest in order to minimize the social problems. Only offer the bare minimum so they can wait for asylum process.

Of course measures like this would have been impossible. The information was about Syrian conflict made people think we really needed to help these Muslim men and EU was determined that all countries should receive this enrichment. We should still be glad that we do not have a lion share of the illegal migrants like Germany and Sweden does.

When it comes to nationalist politics in Finland in the future I believe it would be best for all of us if the other small nationalist groups would join (back) with our party. This summer our party will hold elections for new chairman and one of the candidates is Jussi Halla-aho, a known and feared immigration critic. With his leadership the party could once again be less cuckservative and really do nationalist and patriotic politics. There are speculations that chairman elections are going to be really close and they will largely decide our party’s and Finland’s future. Even in hard times in coalition government we were able to make changes that reduced the influx of immigrants by over 90 % per year.

Make Finland Great Again!

Daniel Kaartinen, The Finns Party Youth