The ministerial working group on migration has tabled an action plan with a total of 25 recommendations for measures for combating illegal immigration in Finland in 2017–2020.
The proposed measures include exploring the possibility of revoking the residence permit or protected status of individuals who have travelled abroad to participate in armed conflicts or terrorist activities and are, as a result, deemed to pose a threat to national security or public order.
The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) estimated in its yearbook at the end of last month that almost 80 adults travelled from Finland to conflict-ridden regions in Iraq and Syria in 2016.
The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Interior should according to the action plan assess the need for and draw up additional legislative measures to enhance the efficiency of investigating violations of the Aliens Act. The current legislation stipulates, for example, that the maximum punishment for such violations is a fine and prohibits the investigating authorities from employing a number of forcible measures.
Finland, the working group underscores, must succeed in removing aliens facing removal orders if it is to prevent the emergence of communities of illegal aliens.
Illegal aliens, it adds, not only place a growing burden on social and health care services but also face a relatively high risk of social exclusion, resorting to crime or being exploited by criminal organisations, and contributing towards the growth of the shadow economy.
The other measures set forth in the action plan include raising awareness of unlawful ethnic profiling, establishing sufficient detention facilities for illegal aliens who are likely to attempt to disappear before their removal from the country, and enhancing co-operation with Frontex and Interpol.
“International studies indicate that ethnic profiling has a negative impact on the subject’s willingness to trust the police and authorities in general,” the working group highlights.
The ministerial working group also reminds that although its action plan refers repeatedly to asylum seekers and the criminal activities possibly associated with them, the majority of asylum seekers in the country have conducted themselves above reproach and have sought to establish themselves as natural members of the society.
“Illegal residence is, neither in practice nor as a phenomenon, related only to immigrants who have arrived in the country as asylum seekers,” it states.
The measures detailed in the four-year action plan will be implemented by a variety of authorities, including the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.
The number of people residing in the country without a residence permit is projected to increase as administrative courts work through the backlog of appeals against negative asylum decisions issued by Migri in 2016. Finnish authorities have detected annually slightly over 3,000 illegal residents in recent years.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Seppo Samuli – Lehtikuva