The Reasons Behind the Rise of Anti-Migration Sentiment in the West By Jonathan Vegamora | 30 April 2017
Spring has come to Europe. Spring. With the winter season gone, a wave of impoverished humanity is coming to settle a relatively stable and prosperous Europe. Thousands from the African continent will dare to cross the Sahara Desert, destabilized North Africa and the treacherous waves of the Mediterranean yet again to reach Europe. The same goal goes for the migrants from the Middle East given the destabilized states of Iraq and Syria. Indeed, even if these migrants have the best of intentions for themselves, their mass exodus to Europe has had its consequences on not just themselves but on the peoples of Europe and the entirety of the West even: demographic change, culture clash and a significant rise in crime. Not all migrants are criminal, that would be a false generalization, but not all of them entering Europe are moral either.
There has always been the urge and the actual activity to migrate to Europe among populations from developing Africa and the Middle East but it was not always at this immense magnitude which started two years ago when Germany opened its borders to Syrian refugees. To understand the crisis, it is imperative to analyze the circumstances that lead to it.
2011, six years ago, was the year of the ‘Arab Spring’. It was a wave of democratic uprisings that spread throughout the Arab world in countries like Yemen, Egypt and Syria. Some countries transitioned, somewhat shakily with a few impeachments and coups, into democratic stability while others regressed into outright civil war such as Syria and Libya.
Syria got a severe share of destabilization due to the Arab Spring. Popular demonstrations descended into rebellion and civil war when President Bashar Al-Assad initiated a dictatorial-like crackdown not just with military armor and bullets but even with chemical agents and ‘barrel bombs’ deployed against his own people. From there, ‘moderate’ rebels were formed against Assad’s government forces while the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) rose from the chaos. Slowly the Iraqi government gave way to ISIS while surrendering its American military capital to the enemy. The Caliphate grew like cancer only to be hindered by ‘moderate’ rebels, Assad forces, the American-led coalition and even the Russians but these factions did not stop the radicals from imposing their cruel version of ‘sharia law’ on the land and people they conquered: throwing homosexuals off rooftops, ethnic cleansing against Christian ethnic minorities, drowning convicts in cages etc. The damage was done. Some kids even became terrorists.
From all this chaos wrought by Assad, the ‘moderate’ rebels, ISIS, Turkey, Russia and the US-led coalition, came about an utterly damaged, war-weary and poor civilian population: refugees. People who wanted it all to end. People who just wanted their peaceful lives back at the very least. It has been six years of total war after all. So they flee to Turkey for safety, security and maybe even for some sort of economic opportunity and eventually into Europe.
But Syria isn’t the only country that’s contributing to the migrant wave. Libya almost shares the exact same story as Syria with a civil war that is yet to be concluded. In late 2011, the rebels ‘liberated’ the country thanks to the military intervention of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Gaddafi was eventually found dead. Indeed, the civil war has replaced the dictatorship that was holding Libya together politically, economically and militarily with fractured armed revolutionary groups with questionable loyalties and objectives, what can possibly go wrong? Tribal conflict, parallel governments and violence over control of Libya’s lands and resources like its oil reserves. Currently, Libya has disintegrated into the Second Libyan Civil War and now ISIS is in it as well.
It’s free ground for human smugglers to Europe given that the ‘authorities’ are too pre-occupied with fighting over what’s left of Gaddafi’s spoils. As the last act of vengeance against the NATO for siding with the rebels, Gaddafi approved the opening of Libya as a transit country for Sub-Saharan Africans to enter Europe and to this day it still is a major smuggling hub into Italy and the Schengen zone.
The mass migration escalated further into Europe when Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that the German state will open its borders to all Syrian asylum-seekers. Indeed, it was an amazing act of altruism but it was not free from flaws. Inadvertently, there came about a thriving black market for Syrian identification documents which hints that maybe not all migrants coming into Europe are Syrian-asylum seekers. Some of them could be just pretending to be Syrian refugees so that they could reap the economic benefits of being one of them. Pure economic migrants, really. This is what moral hazard can inspire given the sweetest incentive. And let’s not forget the fact that this gives smugglers the incentives to raise prices higher in the face of an increasing inelastic demand to flee poverty and war in Africa and the Middle East into the stability and prosperity of Europe.
Besides the massive magnitude of the migrant flow, 1 million people, another worrying aspect of the migration is its gender imbalance. Back in late 2015, over 50% of migrants involved in the crisis were adult men, less than 20% were women and the rest were children. Most likely these percentages have changed over time and hopefully so since such an imbalance would have social and cultural repercussions on a society. But some German officials have been reporting still that many migrants they’ve been seeing and accommodating are able-bodied male with ever fewer women and children. Sounds more like a covert army than actual refugee families fleeing war. And the threats made by ISIS to infiltrate the migrant flow into Europe is actually a legitimate concern now given that European states cannot ensure that every single migrant is an actual refugee and not a terrorist and that one of the migrants ended up committing an act of terror that killed over a hundred people in Paris.
Not only is terrorism a threat but also the ghettos, culture clashes and crimes arising from the migrant communities in Europe. In Sweden, there are 55 no-go zones filled with ‘asylum-seekers’ that law enforcement cannot access due to the number and intensity of crimes there ranging from gun violence to drug crimes to vandalism and sexual assault. The crime wave is so intense that an estimated four out of five cops in Sweden are seriously considering quitting from the police force. In addition, a Swedish police officer has exposed the fact on social media that he has been processing a variety of crimes committed by migrants from Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and even as far as Somalia. And if that’s not enough evidence of the crisis Sweden is facing then footage from the country itself by an investigative journalist should be a revelation worth understanding (see the link below). Belgium has also had its share of migrant enclaves with Molenbeek being the most of infamous of all which a political reporter and commentator visited. Based from her interviews, many residents supported the idea of having ‘sharia law’ and she was constantly harassed by residents as well for visiting (see the link below).
In Austria, over 11,000 asylum-seekers were presumed to have committed crimes in the first half of 2016 and in 2015, over 15,000 were suspected as well. Thousands of them have come from Afghanistan, Algeria, Morocco, Iraq and Syria and even as far Nigeria. Most of the criminal offenses were drug-related with theft in second place. Some 600 were incriminated for ‘making dangerous threats,’ half that number were for brawling while less than 200 were involved in sex crimes. Lastly, 13 were charged for being members of terror cells while only 2 were incriminated for ‘inciting or approving of terrorist activity. ‘
During the beginning of the migrant flow into Germany in 2015, a school in Bavaria warned the parents of its students to discourage their children from wearing ‘revealing clothes.’ The head teacher of the school explained her reasons why such a measure was necessary:
‘The refugees are marked by their own culture. Because our school is directly next to where they are staying, modest clothing should be adhered to. Revealing tops or blouses, shorts or miniskirts could lead to misunderstandings… These [migrant] boys, who come from a culture where for women it is frowned upon to show naked skin, follow girls and bother them without realizing. Obviously, this is a matter of concern for us… it was my responsibility to remind everyone that two cultures are coming together here’
Later that year on New Year’s Eve, numerous sexual assaults were carried out by more than 2,000 men of ‘Middle Eastern and African descent’ against over a thousand women in the cities of Cologne and Hamburg in Germany. Local police couldn’t publicly report the crimes immediately or even arrest and prosecute suspected criminals of migrant lineage due to marching orders from the top that barred them from doing so because it would be ‘racist.’
Sadly, even Paris too isn’t spared from the trauma. No-go zones, migrant enclaves, don’t welcome French women and they are so dangerous that even police unions are actually protesting about the violence they’re facing over in these places.
These effects of the migrant crisis have become the rationale behind why Europe’s Far Right has been gaining popularity with its anti-migration agenda. It’s a heterogeneous political category really for its members can be genuinely racist, judging a person’s dignity and morality solely on color while there those members who are just ordinary citizens worried about their safety in the face of the menace of some migrants. So far, the faction has been gaining ground with ‘Brexit,’ its political success in Germany’s local elections, the closure of Hungary to refugees and the gradual rise of Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France.
Not all migrants are moral, broken families and not all migrants are criminals, terrorists or rapists. Just like the Far Right, the composition of the migration to Europe is also heterogeneous. But given the circumstances of the 2015 Migrant Crisis, the open-door policy of Germany and the allocation of ‘refugees’ within Europe might just increase costs that really outweigh the supposed benefits of immigration from the developing world.
How can the humanitarian endeavor of Europe succeed if some of its own people are being victimized criminally by some of these migrants with their exclusive enclaves, crimes and attitudes towards Europeans? Actually, there are so many of them at one period in time that they can just setup or move to districts that cater to their culture closest to their home countries in the Middle East and Africa instead of effectively assimilating into Europe’s cultures and societies. What’s the incentive of assimilating if there is either a significantly large community or a large number of migrants or both that shares a similar culture and language with you in the destination country as a migrant? Thanks to numbers they could establish their own enclaves, like Molenbeek in Belgium and Malmo in Sweden, so it shouldn’t be surprising if there are to be differences in culture and culture clashes between the nationals and the migrants of the destination country.
With a national society forced to adjust to a massive influx of foreigners, can a national economy even absorb all this by giving jobs to a significant portion of these migrants especially in Germany where it has accepted at least a million of them? Do these migrants even have the human capital to be productive in Germany’s industries? They can’t even speak German fluently but does it matter given that they could setup their own enclaves anyway.
These are some logical solutions European governments should adopt when it comes to immigration from outside Europe and immigration in general: firstly, the magnitude of the migration should not be a flood but a trickle and second, there should be sturdy systems, measures and mechanisms in place for the efficient assimilation of foreigners. If it’s a trickle, these migrants would actually have an incentive to learn the language, the culture and the skills to integrate into the destination country’s social and economic fabric given that they are almost alone in an unknown land. This reduces drastically the moral hazard of these immigrants from not assimilating because there is no sizeable ready enclave for them that has the characteristics of the home country. This is one of the reasons why the immigrant assimilation in America has been relatively successful. If a national government has in place an effective assimilation system with introductory courses about the country, complete language courses and job initiatives then the risk of clashes between nationals and migrants would actually reduce because of exposure and necessary adaptation.
But why would we ask so much from them when all they want is to live in peace? What about the people who really need help? Actual refugees: families fleeing man-made and natural disasters. What about them? How can we help them without asking anything from them? That’s the thing, charity has its limits. We can’t afford to be charitable to everyone because we would incur costs, and they’re usually quite heavy. Eventually there’ll be a point where our charity will end and we’ll need to get some things in return to cover the costs and that ‘payment’ is usually the adaptation of the migrant to the destination country. We can’t realistically save everyone suffering in the world. That’s a fact of life but we can try to save these refugees and encouraging their migration into developed countries isn’t the full-proof policy as we have seen in Western Europe.
Maybe civil society can actually volunteer to take care of and assimilate a chosen few refugee families while the government establishes a refugee quota with strict requirements for potential enlistees in order to avoid drastically changing the country’s demographics and cultural base. Canada, a country I’m not really fond of, is actually doing just fine with its system of refugee accommodation compared to Germany that is really flooded with refugees and economic migrants at the moment. Another initiative that governments can adopt that would actually be very wide-reaching to refugees would be to allot places as ‘safe zones’ in their origin countries complete with the necessities for living while these governments, in cooperation with the homeland government, try to stabilize their homelands for further development. If America and Europe adopted these measures, the migrant crisis would not have been so serious. But really, the magnitude of the migrant crisis wouldn’t be this large if the West had not constantly intervened in these destabilized regions politically and militarily for years if not decades.
Because of the irresponsible actions of the leaders of Western Europe and America in their obsession with intervening in these developing regions of the world for their own power gain, Europe is going to change for the worse thanks to culture clash and rampant crime that came from the migrant crisis they have caused. Even if the political center-right were to win the seats of European governments this year in order to gradually end these detrimental immigration and refugee policies there still would not be a smooth transition to a happy ending. It even actually looks like the menace of uncontrolled immigration is in Europe to stay.