What future for migrants & refugees?

By Andrew L. Urban

Douglas Murray’s provocative article in The Weekend Australian, (17/18 March, 2018), ‘Add new migrants and stir carefully’ discusses the challenges of mass migration from the point of view of Australia and other host countries. But do all migrants find a happy new life in their new country and new culture?

Murray says: “In 2015 up to 1.5 million came to Germany in one year alone, adding about 2 per cent to the German population. Nobody thought the matter through. Nobody wanted to admit the consequences. Everyone was fearful of the discussion. But the German public is now living with the consequences. A report commissioned by the German government and released at the start of this year found that a double-digit increase in violent crime had occurred in the years since 2015 and that “more than 90 per cent” of this was due to young male migrants. Three years ago if you said that a huge influx of young male migrants from the developing world might cause an increase in violent crime you would be dismissed as a racist. Today it is clear that — whether you were a racist or not — you also were right in your prediction.”

He begins with a big IF: “If Australia — or any other Western democracy — were able to have a grown-up conversation about immigration and integra­tion, then that conversation would start with difficult questions. One of them would be this: “Who do we not want to join us here?”

The flip side of that question is “Who doesn’t want to or can’t join in here?” What happens after they arrive? What future is there for the least skilled migrants/refugees who make up the bulk of the numbers. Will any of their expectations for a life of Western style comfort, safety and happiness be met? Or is their future demarcated by welfare payments, perhaps supplemented by petty or major crime, homelessness, cultural disconnect, absence of self esteem, hopelessness … will disillusionment turn to bitterness when a nice apartment, a neat car and lots of pretty women is a lifestyle combo that remains out of their reach?

Is Europe, the UK and Australia really the place and the culture to deliver long term life improvement to those vulnerable and unself-sufficient migrants from poverty stricken lands who seek economic advantages?

Not least is the problem of cultural dislocation for the vast bulk of young men whose life experience is within the culture of their Muslim village.

Have they swapped a Muslim village lifestyle within the Muslim world with a Muslim village lifestyle on the harsh streets of ghettos and banlieue of the West? (Like the Melbourne gangs.) Many have few if any skills that will help them into jobs in Paris, Berlin, London or Sydney – not even relevant language skills in many cases.

Unfiltered migration is a lose-lose policy. Worse, it is not even up for discussion. Part of the reason for that is clearly the spectre of being labelled a bigot or racist, as Murray points out. “…we have disabled our ability to have a sane public discussion. Simultaneously, “open borders” fanatics see how afraid everyone else is even of false accusations of bigotry and push their advantage, throwing around accusations of racism for short-term wins towards a long-term political goal.

“For the time being there remains only one acceptable tone in which to talk about immigration and integration. That is to talk about it as an unending boon and one big success story. Merely signal that there are pros and cons and you land in a whole world of pain.”

I was spending time in Hungary in May 2015 when the flood of refugees and migrants began arriving in Europe. Hungary was the first to put up border fences, much to almost universal condemnation. I wrote then: “There is an argument that Western democracies can afford and are morally obliged to help such refugees. But this argument is in a reality vacuum. Is there a limit on the numbers? The numbers are growing. Who decides where to draw the line? What about the poverty stricken, unemployed or indigenous disadvantaged of the host countries? Do they not warrant charity to begin at home, and that share of resources increasingly going to economic migrants? What moral rights do economic refugees have over hosts? The sheer scale of it is overwhelming, as mass migration expands on its own momentum, deaths on the journeys notwithstanding.”

In February 2016, Der Spiegel published an extensive report, ‘Has the German State lost control?’ One paragraph from the report gives an insight into the extent of the problems facing host countries:

“In many places, refugees simply disappear soon after arrival, without anyone knowing where they’ve gone. The operators of some asylum-seeker camps, like one in the state of Hesse outside of Frankfurt, report a disappearance rate among refugees as high as 50 percent within the first two days after arrival.”

Further questions arise as time passes, as it already has: when minority groups grow and become pressure groups, will they skew public policy as vote-chasing officials pursue their wishes? (Sharia?) When migrant groups present profoundly conflicting cultures within the host societies, what then?

The moral questions are so complex they defy simplistic answers and they are imperative questions for democracies because without working out how to respond to this challenge, democracies will inevitably begin to weaken- as they already have.

Now, three years later, borders in Europe (several now also fenced) are no longer so open, populations are restless and many citizens are turning against over-generous migration policies. The bulk of reporting has been on the new waves of crime committed by sections of newcomers from Africa or the Middle East. That unavoidable fact should alert us to the harsh reality that for many, their new home does not feel like home at all. It may well feel like the fire into which they have jumped from the frying pan.

But where do they seek refuge if Muslim nations have been notable by their absence in reaching out and embracing refugees and migrants from other Muslim countries. That’s another taboo subject. Everyone is fearful of the discussion.

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