Finland: Illegal immigrants create security concerns

Päivi Nerg said illegal immigrants will be forcefully returned to their countries permanent secretary at the Ministry of the Interior Photo: Helsinki Times

Unsuccessful asylum seekers who choose to stay in the country illegally have raised concerns among security authorities in Finland, reveals Päivi Nerg, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of the Interior.
She added in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat that unsuccessful asylum seekers who disappear before returning to their country of origin are a concern for security officials in the country.
The Helsinki-based newspaper reported that an estimated 12,000 people will be granted a final negative decision on their asylum applications during the course of this year.
Nerg stated that authorities will encourage such people to leave the country voluntarily before resorting to forced returns. The first forced returns of unsuccessful asylum seekers from Finland to Iraq were carried out in November.
A share of such people, however, are expected to remain in the country illegally – as undocumented immigrants. They will thereby be unable to study and work and will only be entitled to urgent medical care not, for example, to basic social assistance as per to a decision by the government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä.
Security authorities are concerned that people opting to stay in the country illegally may contribute to an increase in criminal and shadow economic activities, according to Nerg.
“No one is illegal as a human being,” she clarified. “However, I wouldn’t want to create a system in Finland that treats those who are here illegally the same way as those who are here legally. It’d be wrong both to those who live here and to those who have been granted a residence permit.”
She added that in light of a shift in the security environment and cuts in the resources of several security authorities, “we can no longer be bright-eyed and say the security situation has not changed”.
Janne Olsen, a councilman for the City of Tornio, estimates in his blog that the concerns are curious in light of the decision not to establish a so-called return centre to accommodate asylum seekers awaiting removal from the country. It quickly became clear, he adds, that the majority of the roughly 32,000 applicants who arrived in Finland in 2015 would be denied asylum.
The Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), an agency established under the Ministry of Finance, began the preparatory work to set up a return centre early last year.
“A return centre was never set up, even though several authorities, including the police, were concerned that people who had received a negative asylum decision were at a risk of disappearing and resorting to crime [to sustain their illegal stay in Finland],” writes Olsen.
The Ministry of the Interior responded to his comments on Twitter on Tuesday, revealing that it had concluded that setting up the centre was not the best alternative to address the situation due to economic, practical and security-related reasons.
“[The possibility of setting up] a return centre was explored thoroughly,” a ministry spokesperson tweeted.


Helsinki Times

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