Contrary to the last three parliamentary elections in 2011, 2015, and 2019, the upcoming parliamentary election on April 2 is different for several reasons: war rages in the Ukeraine, Finland has sought Nato membership, economic growth, and chronic labor shortages are just a few.
Apart from labeling people from outside the EU as “harmful” migrants, the radical right Perussuomalaiset (PS)* attempts to argue with several CEOs of Finnish companies that rely on foreign workers that the party has nothing against qualified immigrants but is against what it labels “social welfare” immigrants.
“Finland is not very successful in attracting immigration that is economically beneficial, but it receives a lot of immigration that is economically detrimental,” Riikka Purra, the head of the PS, was quoted as saying in Kauppalehti, adding that she is against what she calls “social welfare” migrants.
Purra’s argument reminds me of a story I published in Savon Sanomat in 2012.
Back then, I wrote in the English version of the story that anti-immigration groups were using the same arguments. It’s like eating and having your cake at the same time while you put a picture of Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming.
The PS has viciously labeled some migrants in Finland as “harmful” and “social welfare” recipients. They will tell you with a poker face that as long as the newcomer is a “super” migrant, things are ok.
Who are the so-called super migrants that some wish for in Finland?
- They function perfectly as a group even if humans are far from perfect;
- They are white northern Europeans, and some Far East Asia groups like the Chinese (white Russians are excluded)
- They commonly belong to the Christian faith;
- They are heterosexualsThey are skilled professionals and well-behaved;
- They adapt quickly and without problems to our way of life;
- They are never unemployed (they are against social welfare and handouts;
- They are paid less than Finnish employees;
- They don’t mind ethnic profiling by the police since they haven’t committed any crimes;
- They never practice their culture in public spaces;
- Their children only speak their parents’ language at home, and in public, they whisper;
- Their parents speak near-perfect Finnish;
- Cultural differences and slight Finnish accents are fine because they allow us to distinguish between “us” and “them.”
The number of these so-called bad migrants that politicians like Purra tar and feather publically account for is only about 10%.
So what is the big fuss?
It’s called politics and attracting voters with racist talking points.
Moreover, Argentina received millions of migrants from Italy and Spain in the 19th and 20th centuries. Immigration officials at the time also believed, naively, that to make Argentina a civilized country, all you had to do was bring people from Europe.
Juan Bautista Alberdi, who drafted Argentina’s immigration policy blueprint, wrote:
“As in all other times: Europe will bring its new spirit, their industrial practices, civilized ways
in the immigrants, they send to us. Every European that comes to our shores brings more civilization
and their customs are later passed on to our inhabitants, than many books on philosophy…”
What came to Argentina’s shores was a different story: illiterate workers, anarchists, and the like.
Among those migrants was my great-grandfather Angelo Lullo, who was illiterate. He raised a family of nine, worked, and Argentina allowed his children to go to school. My grandmother became an elementary school teacher.
While I am certain that many things must be worked out for Finland to attract all kinds of migrants, educated professionals, skilled and unskilled laborers, it’s clear that great harm is done to the country when we label and victimize people.
There is no such thing as the “super” migrants as there is no such thing as “harmful” and “social welfare” migrants.
They are all people in search of opportunity and a better life.