The Helsinki City Board has stirred up concerns among policy makers by voting narrowly in favour of improving the living conditions of undocumented immigrants.
The City Board on Tuesday approved a proposal to grant undocumented immigrants the same rights to medicine, medical care, vaccinations and dental care as asylum applicants, instead of only to indispensable subsistence, such as food, accommodation and emergency care.
Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finns Party, warned yesterday that the decision could undermine the credibility of the aliens act and the asylum procedure.
“Free health care services are a rate treat globally. It’s blatantly obvious that offering them to everyone who wants them will, firstly, encourage unsuccessful asylum applicants to stay illegally in Finland and, secondly, attract more people with no grounds for receiving international protection or a residence permit to the country,” he wrote on Facebook.
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s (Centre) government, he reminded, has pledged to “address the issue and encourage illegal residents to return home”.
“If Finland’s largest city and the main destination for immigrants contrastively encourages them to stay, it’ll undermine the foundation for the government’s objective. Is the government planning on interfering as the capital is attracting unsuccessful applicants to stay in the country and, thus, sabotaging the government’s objective to ensure illegal residents leave the country?”
Mari Rantanen (PS), a councillor for the City of Helsinki, similarly voiced her concern that the proposal could undermine the credibility of the asylum system of Finland.
Pia Pakarinen (NCP), a Deputy Mayor of Helsinki, urged the city to pay heed to how other countries are approaching the issue in order not to create any additional pull factors.
“I’m of the opinion that everyone has the right to urgent care. Regardless of nationality, no one should have to die on the streets of Helsinki. When it comes to expanding the services [available to undocumented immigrants], I would keep a close eye on what other countries have decided in order to ensure we are not offering benefits you cannot get elsewhere,” she wrote.
She also reminded that for the city to be able to provide non-urgent care and education services to all who arrive there, the number of people who need such services must not be allowed to spiral out of control.
The fate of the proposal will be decided at a later date by the Helsinki City Council.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi