Finns Demand Faster Deportation of Foreign Felons

© REUTERS / Jussi NukariRefugees walked in heavy rain from a public transport centre to Lappia-building refugee reception centre in Tornio, northwestern Finland, September 18, 2015
Refugees walked in heavy rain from a public transport centre to Lappia-building refugee reception centre in Tornio, northwestern Finland, September 18, 2015 - Sputnik International
With crimes committed by migrants steadily rising in the aftermath of the refugee crisis, Finnish lawmakers are being pressed by the Finnish public to tighten laws and facilitate the deportation of migrants who have been convicted of criminal offences. Finland's Interior Ministry is also looking for ways to expel certain types of offenders.

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Earlier this year, a citizen's initiative proposing the forced deportation of criminal migrants gathered 54,000 signatures, which prompted a parliament debate. The proposal called for changes in the legislature that would allow the country to expediently eject non-Finns who have been convicted of serious crimes, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported.

Additionally, rules for migrant centers may be reviewed, following the recent murder of an elderly Finn in the city of Kajaani in northern Finland, Finnish Interior Minister Paula Risikko told Finnish national broadcaster Yle. According to Risikko, the present routine, where accommodation centers house both asylum-seekers who received a positive decision and those who were refused, may lead to the emergence of ghettos and criminal gangs, which Interior Ministry would like to avoid.

Finland's Security Police (Supo) expects the number of illegal immigrants in the country to increase due to the fact that the Migration Board (Migri) has been rejecting more asylum applications. At present, there are about 3,000 refused asylum-seekers who have appealed Migri's negative decisions. Police fear that the people who have failed to obtain refugee status are likely to continue their stay in Finland without proper documents.

"The number of rejects is likely to grow, and there is a chance that they will continue to live here outside of Finnish society in some way or another," Kari Harju, the head of Supo's security department, told Yle.

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Earlier this year, Finland's Criminal Police estimated that about 2,500 migrants had disappeared from the authorities' radar.
However, Finland's Parliament went on to unanimously reject the citizens' initiative to the public's dismay, on the grounds that it would effectively represent a softening of current practice.

According to the Finnish lawmakers, existing legislation doesn't require an individual to have committed a serious offence to run the risk of deportation. At present, any foreign criminal may face deportation if the offence carried with it at least one year in prison or if the person is a serial offender. In theory, even a fine could result in deportation. Additionally, a non-Finn may also be effectively expelled from the country if his or her conduct can be proven to be endangering public safety.

Additionally, border officials, such as police or border guards, may deny entry to foreigners or return them to their countries of origin. Officials may also impose an entry ban for a maximum period of two years or even longer if immigration officials deem it necessary. Apart from criminal offences, individuals may also be deported if their residence permits have expired.

Ben Zyskowicz of the Coalition Party stressed that he shared the public's concerns, but stressed the fact that people illegally residing in Finland are not entitled to social assistance, as opposed to those who, for example, have a residence permit.

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Aino-Kaisa Pekonen of the Left Alliance called the initiative "a populist way to find simple solutions to complex issues." "The law treats all who have committed crimes in the same way; a stricter penalty is not a solution," Pekonen said.

Olli-Poika Parviainen of the Green Party admitted that he understood the public anger when serious violations occurred, and found the rape verdicts in Finland generally "too mild."

At present, Finland's Migration Board remains the ultimate arbiter of deportation decisions for immigrants who hold Finnish residence permits. In 2015, the agency processed 380 deportation cases, of which 279 led to actual expulsions. Crime-based deportations accounted for 30 percent of all cases.

Of late, Finland's fellow Nordic nations have all seen a tightening of immigration laws. The same process is occurring in other parts of Europe as well. Hungary, which has long been the EU's loudest critic of immigration, has recently come under fire for mistreating refugees and violating the EU's 'core values'. Luxembourgian Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn even suggested expelling Hungary from the European Union.

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