Economy Minister Petteri Orpo, who is also the chairperson of the National Coalition Party (NCP), was and is instrumental for having tightened Finland’s immigration policy when he was the interior minister (2015-2016). As a minister in Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, he was instrumental in undermining the rights of asylum seekers and migrant community.
One of his many infamous anti-immigration statements was when he equated asylum seekers coming from the Russian border as water from “a leaking roof.”
In light of the Oulu sexual assault cases, Orpo jumped on the populist bandwagon again by stating that migrants should embrace Finnish values. Iraqis, according to him, are “a challenge” to Finland.
Finance Minister Petteri Orpo considers Iraqis “a challenge” to Finland. He suggests that all Muslim men are chauvinists who oppress women (sic!). Read the full story here.
The statement made by Orpo to describe asylum seekers coming to the country is in the same dubious league as when former UK Prime Minister David Cameron referred to refugees coming from Calais as “swarms of people.”
This is how Orpo describes on his webpage about the 2015 “unseen wave of immigration in Europe:”
“The war in Syria and the other disorder in the Near East and Africa caused an unseen wave of immigration in Europe, which Finland did not avoid. In a very short period of time, a record number of asylum seekers came to our country, and our immigration policy as well as all of its practices had to be reviewed. There was work to be done, and that’s what we did at the lead of the Ministry of the Interior.”
Below are some of the questionable matters that Orpo and the government “had to be reviewed” in the face of an “unseen wave” of asylum seekers:
- Free legal representation restricted to applicants who required exceptional grounds for assistance;
- Deadline for appeals was lowered from 30 to 21 days after a second rejection and to 14 days after the third rejection;
- The government tightened appeal times in the hope of ejecting asylum seekers faster from Finland;
- There were further administrative restrictions and practical difficulties making the application process more complicated;
- Tightened family reunification laws;
- No time limit on detaining families with children in immigration removal centers like Joutseno and Metsälä;
- Lack of government leadership in tackling Islamophobia and racism contributed to Finland’s hostile environment affecting migrants and inhumane immigration policy.
With the NCP’s leadership in disarray after the government’s health care reform ended in failure and a 1.1 percentage point drop to 16.2% in recent opinion polls, Orpo and his party’s politicians are sure to ratchet up xenophobic and anti-immigration sentiment to catch up to the Social Democrats and keep the Perussuomalaiset* in check.
* The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017, into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity never mind Muslims and other visible minorities. One is more open about it while the other says it in a different way.
A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.