Finland wants to curb family reunification
New legislation will require asylum seekers and Finns who want spouses living in non-EU countries to join them in Finland to provide proof of a net income of at least 1,700 euros per month in future. The Finish press criticises the draft law currently being put together by the government in Helsinki.
Is this really how Finland wants to be seen?
A Finland that wants to scare away people from foreign countries yet attract foreign capital has lost touch with its true character, warns the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat:
“The proposal will not only make it hard to keep families together but also to start them, if the potential husband or wife comes from the wrong country in the eyes of the government. … An uncomplicated family reunification is regarded as an incentive. And according to government thinking incentives are undesirable in immigration policy, but desirable when it comes to foreign investment. The government is trying to present one image of Finland to investors and a very different one to the people. But won't this trick distort the image of Finland beyond all recognition?”
Migrants without families hard to integrate
Although it will cost society a lot to reunite refugee families in the short term it will save even more money in the long term, the liberal daily Aamulehti argues:
“If the government sticks to its income requirements a large majority of migrants who stay in Finland will have to say goodbye to their families - which is probably the government's goal. ... The question now is how many immigrants Finland can integrate. It's well known that family reunification makes it much easier for migrants to adjust to their new home country. Although family reunification will cost a lot of money at first we should bear in mind that in this case too, saving one euro now could cost two euros later. Because if dejected migrants become marginalised or radicalised they could end up causing more problems than simply the expense of their integration. And just such problems could be avoided if their families are allowed to join them here.”
Equal treatment for asylum seekers and Finns
Certain Finnish politicians are calling for income requirements not to apply for Finnish citizens as a criterion for family reunification. The liberal daily Kainuun Sanomat sees the demands as racist:
“Rather than concentrating on the obstacles to family reunification for asylum seekers the political parties are focussing on the fact that the changes in the law will also apply to the partners and children of Finnish citizens who want to move to Finland. … Contrary to what is stipulated in the government's draft law many politicians take the view that it's absolutely fine to treat people living legally in Finland differently depending on whether they are Finnish citizens or refugees living legally here. One can't avoid the impression that racism is behind this, or in other words that people are being treated differently based on things like their ethnic background, skin colour or other such criteria.”