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Immigration policy to focus on security

Immigration policy is to shift emphasis towards safeguarding security in society, says new Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen. She told YLE radio that immigration policy would now shift to officials in charge of policing.

Päivi Räsänen.
Päivi Räsänen. Image: Yle

“Immigration policy will respect basic human rights, but the other thread running through policy will be security and sustainability in society,” said the Christian Democrat. “How many immigrants we can integrate into society.”

The government programme outlines that family reunification policy would come into line with that in other Nordic countries. This is a much tougher standard. For example, migrants hoping to bring family members to Sweden now have to produce paperwork from the country of origin.

”There are a lot of foster children in family reunification cases, and it is difficult to ascertain where they are really family members or domestic help,” said Räsänen. “There has been a lot of discussion, and of course there have been problems with bogus claims.”

According to the current family reunification law, holders of a Finnish residence permit can bring their family members to Finland.

No secret deal on changing marriage law

The minister dismissed rumours that there could be a secret agreement among the six governing parties on retaining the current marriage law. Räsänen’s Christian Democrats are vehemently opposed to making the law gender neutral, thereby legalizing same-sex marriages.

”I have checked with the other party chairs, and there is no agreement like that,” affirmed Räsänen. “Of course these are questions of conscience, and if somebody now proposes a private member’s bill on this, we will not resign from the government.”

Private member’s bills require support from more than 100 MPs before they can be considered by parliament’s Administration Committee. Rumours suggest that Left Alliance leader Paavo Arhinmäki and Green League chair Ville Niinistö are considering proposing such a bill.

”There is no proposal to change the marriage law or adoption legislation, and the Justice Ministry will not propose such changes,” said Räsänen. “I trust that Niinistö and Arhinmäki will stand behind the policy.”

She repeated her party’s view that marriage is between a man and a woman. She does not see the question as a human rights issue.

Possible increase in police budget

The police budget is to be cut by around ten million euros. Räsänen says that more money could be allocated to make up for that in additional funds to fight the grey economy.

“There is 20 million euros allocated to crack down on the grey economy, and a portion of that will go to the Interior Ministry,” said Räsänen.

National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero calculated in his blog that cuts of ten million euros a year will mean around 800 unemployed police officers by 2014.

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