Ale Díaz: My Odyssey in the Migration System

My name is Alejandro Díaz Ortiz, I am a Puerto Rican artist, musician, songwriter, graphic designer and a filmmaker who has lived in Finland for the past 9 years. I have been creating art and composing music here ever since I first arrived. So many people know me for my performances in public spaces, gigs and concerts; as well as via other cultural/community events I have participated in over the last years. 2020 has been particularly special because this year I just released my first single called Say No.

I am writing this article because I am currently facing deportation after a mentally devastating 4 years waiting process, and for reasons that I considered to be unfair and unjustified. Everything has been very well documented since I started my legal fight with Migri back in 2016.

Aside from my artistic practice, I have been working as a restaurant chef for several years which means that I have had constant sources of income. I have learned the language, my networks and friends are here, so Finland has become my home for almost a decade. 

The notice of deportation is based on the claim that I have not provided credible evidence of my income, and that they have denied me a residence before. Firstly, it is a false statement because I have sent the copies of my working contracts and payslips (previously provided by my attorney), proving that my monthly income is more than the minimum of 1,198€ net salary that is required by them. My last contract, for instance, is from January of this year where I am still working with a permanent position. Secondly, the first time Migri denied me a residence permit it happened under the basis of a false accusation for a crime that I appealed at court and eventually won. Which means that the court absolved me from all charges. Even tho, Migri considered that previous case as one of the reasons given for the second negative resolution. All of this happened before I applied for a permanent visa, which I did later on short after the Hovioikeus decision came in. But it seems the court did not get the memo and they still used it as a reason to reject the appeal at the Supreme Court. 

Basically, they tried to deport me with a penalty of entry to all Schengen areas for a period of 3 years, labeling me as a criminal even when it was clarified. This was a very humiliating period of my life which has brought terrible mental consequences, considering also that it totally was a case of institutional harassment. 

With this rejection, I essentially have the impression that only a miracle could bend my case and the possible deportation from happening. But if I must go… I want this case to be known. I want them to acknowledge they are rejecting a hard working, dedicated and integrated person for questionable, bureaucratic and ideological reasons. Ultimately, I repeat,  Finland is a great country with wonderful people that I have called my home for almost a decade.

This odyssey has cost me so much pain and angst throughout the years beyond imagination. It has affected aspects of my life most wouldn’t think it could. Everything from my finances to my personal life was affected by this. Those effects even reached into my academic life, I had to give up on my Business studies in Haaga Helia due to the fact that the visa required me to prioritize on work, leaving me with little time to comply with the minimum hours of attendance needed by the university. And that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the side effects of the way our applications are handled. 

People, in particular locals, do not truly understand how deeply these things affect our lives, like a creature with many arms tearing through different aspects of one’s life. I have lost far too many pieces of myself in the years, I am barely the person who left Puerto Rico in 2011. I am truly as a stranger to life over there as I was when I moved to Finland.

Still, I am willing to compromise and not blame Migri entirely just yet. I have begun to suspect whether or not my lawyers really forwarded all my details, contracts, payslips to the authorities. In the span of 4 years I was assigned 3 different lawyers by the Oikeusaputoimisto, another organization who’s lawyers’ devotion to their cases has been questioned by many. Or I can also just accept the possibility of ‘human error’ given how long this battle has extended, it is understandable that some details might have been “mistakenly overlooked”. I was not requested more information nor documentation nor any updates for this final decision, I was simply told to wait. But if I can somehow point out these details in the open for all to examine for themselves, can they still overlook them? 

I have dedicated my life here to peaceful living, cultural exchange, even networking with a few NGOs, sponsoring events for the community, collaboration with local artists, as well as worked really hard to earn my salary as a chef. All of this in parallel to the release of my first single! Life was beginning to finally turn around…

But now I reach the peaking point of a very long and exhausting battle. I stand now between starting finally a new chapter of my life here without this legal struggle, or saying goodbye to that life entirely… I do not know what else to do other than to share about my struggle with you and hope others do not fall in the same tortuous legal limbo I have been subjected to for so long. I have worked hard and paid taxes for the sustainability of a system which ultimately failed me. We are being kicked out of this great country unjustifyingly!

Toivottavasti saan jatkaa elämääni täällä. Tämä on ollut pitkä prosessi ja ankara kamppailu minulle. Vaikka minun pitäisi lähteä Suomesta, Suomi ei enää lähde sydämestäni.

Alejandro Díaz Ortiz

PEN Tiedotus