Legislation and Undocumented Immigrants

In my previous blog post, I tried to open the awareness about paperless immigrants. In this post, I will try to represent some of the national and international regulations about immigration and in next discussions I will refer to NGO’s and activists’ actions to support refugees and paperless immigrants.

Asylum policies have been changed from autumn of 2015 to the spring of 2016. The statistics shows that in the first half of the 2015, over 80 percent of immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan were eligible for residency in Finland, while in 2017 under 40 percent of Iraqis and under 50 percent of Afghans could receive residency from authorities. Most of the paperless refugees that I experienced during my practice placement came to Finland in years 2015 and 2016. Studies showed that the main factor for this sharp change was the interpretation of Finnish immigration service (Migri) after 2015, although some sources claimed state’s tightening legislation caused the negative decisions by Migri. After the negative decisions, many of those paperless people went to another EU country for appealing the new application and because of Dublin ||| regulation, many of them had to come back to Finland and apply again in Migri as refugee. They experienced many problems as circumstances of this stage of their refugee application, for example one Afghan lost lots of legal documents which he carried to another European country and this just makes it for him more difficult to submit approved documents in his new application to Migri.

Image: Spiegel Online

The worst living condition that I ever seen by myself was for those who had already three negative decisions by authorities. They were worried about detention and deportation by police. They could not reside in reception centers because of their fear to be deported and they were abandoned of services because of it. In 2017, YLE, the national TV broadcaster of Finland, claimed that there are about 1700 people in the return queue. The government legislations focus on social isolation and exclusion as a solution for undocumented immigrants and these acts seem to make pressure on paperless people to voluntarily return.

In 2017, the opposition parties suggested to reinstatement of B-permits for refugees who did not fulfill the requirements for a longer period residency such as permanent permit, however, this proposal had been rejected by ministry of interior on that time. It seems like the willingness for promoting the paperless people situation does not exist politically. On the other hand, NGOs like freedom of movement which started its activities from 2008 tried to support the paperless and refugee; for example, in 2017, the free movement network conducted dance party, a four-hour dance party with Afghans and Arabs, that resulted socially inclusion for people who participated in. such activities could result mentally supportive for paperless people, however it may not result in a permanent solution.  Another form of action for supporting was demonstration. The demonstration, especially when stays for long time like the demonstration in 2017 at Helsinki central railway station, could play as a platform for publicity. The Finnish refugee advice center that established in 1988 was founded by member organizations, such as Amnesty International’s Finnish section, the Student Union of the University of Helsinki, Demla (association for legal policy), the Finnish Refugee Council, the National Union of University Students in Finland and the Finnish Red Cross. Some of these organizations are currently involved in supporting refugees in Finland.  

I will continue more details of supporting activities of these organizations and NGOs in my next post here under the No papers, No rights blogging.

References

Writings on the Freedom of Movement 2018. No.3. Signal Pamphlet. Finland ISSN 2343-0516

Himanen, Markus 2018. Residence Permits Instead of Deportations and Criminalization. Signal Pamphlet. Finland

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