A controversial immigration incident has ignited discussion both in Finland and China: A Chinese grandfather visiting his daughter in Finland on a tourist visa babysat for his Finnish son-in-law for money only to end up being deported by the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri).
The 62-year-old pensioner was stripped of his passport, escorted out of the country, and forbidden to enter the Schengen Area for two years. A photo published by Finnish daily, Helsingin Sanomat, on March 5 showed him carrying a grandchild in his arms at the airport and his daughter weeping.
Migri gave the reasons for the rejection as “trying to circumvent regulations with a made-up job” and “failing to provide qualifications or previous experience in child care,” local media reported.
Finnish Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen voiced her concerns and what she believed was the necessity to examine the immigration regulation.
“In this case, even the administrative court agreed with the immigration service. It raises the question of should we revise the regulations,” she was quoted by Helsinki Times as saying on March 7.
She also claimed it was absurd for Migri to ask for child minding qualifications from a grandparent.
“Good for you minister! You are honest,” wrote a Chinese netizen posting under the name Lan Se Fang Zhen. The comment was one of 13,000 posts following a Xinhua story republished by Sina News. Similar comments could be seen on other websites and mobile services.
Despite the thousands of sympathetic postings, quite a lot of Chinese readers expressed their support for Migri.
“Employed by son-in-law? Evidently they are cheating,” said a Phoenix mobile news reader identified as LTT. Some even underlined that Finland is “the most honest and self-disciplined country.”
A Chinese businessman, identifying himself as Gao, experienced a similar situation more than 10 years ago. Gao married a Finnish woman and raised three children in Finland.
“We wanted to employ my father to take care of my children, but our application was turned down. My father was deported and not allowed to enter Finland within two years,” recalled Gao.
More and more Chinese people living in Finland resort to such methods, but most of them have failed, as the authority is aware that it could place a burden on the Finnish society, now beleaguered by an aging population and the huge welfare system, Gao said.
Another Chinese immigrant, giving her name as Chen, said she was successful in getting her mother a residence permit for three years on a working basis.
“Maybe they know I am too busy to take care of my son, or maybe they think I am doing a job which serves Finland a lot,” speculated Chen, who is a trilingual interpreter, as the reasons the temporary permit was granted.
Employing her mother is not easy. Chen has to spend 2,200 euros (about 2,335 U.S. dollars) on her mother’s monthly salary, among which some 500 euros go to the welfare system and 360 euros go to the tax office. Moreover, Chen has to buy a separate apartment for her mother.
“I am lucky, I would say,” Chen said, despite the financial difficulty. She said it is good to have a helper in family life, and it is extremely important for a Chinese adult to enjoy the emotional contact with parents.
“In Chinese culture, family life is not happy without parents,” Chen said, mentioning that many Chinese regulations are made on basis of this “big family” concept.
“I wouldn’t justify those with a hidden agenda, but it would be better for Chinese immigrants to have more opportunities to reunite with their parents,” said Chen.
As many other Chinese suggested, she agreed that the permission of a prolonged visiting period for one or two years would be favorable. Enditem