Columns Finns still have to get used to a world that is not open to us

During the pandemic, we, pampered immigrants who grew up in EU-Finland, have encountered borders in a new way.

Bridge a week only becomes a year since I was last in Finland. Compared to many, I am lucky. A year is a short time.

A new type of smalltalk has spread among our immigrants during the Korona period. We chat about when we last visited our home country or saw family.

We are also talking about how many people in their home country do not understand how difficult it is to travel and how closed borders feel.

The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs recommends avoiding unnecessary travel almost everywhere outside the EU and the Schengen area. But what is unnecessary? A grandparents’ trip to meet a new grandchild born abroad? A trip to the girlfriend? A trip to your workplace?

Many countries still limit all of this.

Travel rules vary widely. An Australian friend of mine living in Washington will not be able to visit his homeland without compulsory quarantine, which costs thousands of euros.

A summer vacation trip will then remain a dream even if you have been vaccinated.

Finland will open its borders to vaccinated Americans next Monday, but Europeans will not yet be able to travel directly to the United States except with an exemption or permanent residence permit.

Bureaucracy is also slow. For example, many Finnish students have had to fear that their studies will begin in the autumn in the United States without them.

Immigrants encounter similar problems also in Finland.

We Pampered immigrants who grew up in EU-Finland have encountered borders in a new way during the pandemic. We do not receive the necessary papers. We get lost in bureaucracy.

We often take it as an insult. Why didn’t it work?

The same is commonplace for immigrants from developing countries. The boundaries are high for them, and if you manage to move to a new country, the former life may be left entirely behind.

Some have been left in an eternal space. In the United States, for example, they are people who have been smuggled in as children.

Last Friday, a U.S. federal judge ruled that the DACA program, which protected hundreds of thousands of such people from deportation, is illegal.

The legal battle continues, but after the decision, those who grew up in the United States and their loved ones will once again have to fear for their future.

Alongside that, my own homesickness feels small. At least I’m welcome back home.

The author is HS’s Washington correspondent.



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