Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is quite clear: “Europe does not need immigrants. It needs a good family and employment policy much more… We cannot be like Swiss cheese with free entry and exit for anyone.” Then he presented a plan for the government to start a so-called National Consultation on the topic.
According to the Orbán government stricter immigration laws cannot wait any longer. For this reason they are planning to ask those Hungarian citizens with voting rights 12 questions about immigration in general, socially motivated migration and terrorism.
The governing party said the European Union had also come to the conclusion that, concerning the growing number of refugees heading in its direction, the problem must be handled as soon as possible. “After the Hungarian nation has expressed its opinion, the governing parties will begin to create decisions about immigration that are much stronger than the current European regulations, since finding a solution to these problems cannot wait any longer,” Fidesz said.
The party pointed out that in the first quarter of 2015 more than 33,000 applications for asylum were made, compared with 42,000 applications in all 2014 and 2,000 in all 2013.
National Consultation: twelve questions about immigration
All Hungarians entitled to vote will have until July 1 to answer the 12 questions of the National Consultation. Government spokesman Zoltán Kovács said more than eight million questionnaires will be posted in early May. Those answered would be evaluated by the Central Office for Administrative and Electronic Public Services. The government estimated the cost at HUF 960 million.
Kovács said the government wants citizens’ opinion on whether illegal border-crossers should be detained for longer than 24 hours, despite the European Union prohibiting such a measure, and whether immigrants who are proven to be taking advantage of European regulations should be immediately expelled, and whether they should be expected to work while in Hungary to defray the cost of accommodation and food.
He said Parliament would be able to “demonstrate the appropriate reactions on illegal immigration” based on the evaluation of the questionnaires.
Kovács stressed that the Hungarian viewpoint on illegal immigration is basically not different from the European Union’s, namely that the “roots” of the problem need to be treated by improving conditions in countries from which people are escaping towards Europe, so that “social migrants” do not decide to emigrate at all.
Hungary is one of the EU countries where the pressure of immigration is especially high, and this is why urgent measures, especially in the mid-term, are absolutely necessary, he said.
Immigration benefits neither Hungary nor the EU
Fidesz MP László Pósán said it is not beneficial for Hungary or the EU that illegal immigrants from other cultures flock en masse to Europe because this could lead to “extremely numerous conflicts in the course of living together”.
Pósán said that as an MP for Debrecen he knows well the everyday problems caused by having a refugee camp in a Hungarian city. The problems had begun with Hungary’s entry into the EU in 2004 because the “relatively closed camp” needed to be opened at that time.
The MP said he does not value “politically correct” expressions too much because these serve to undermine the problems. Which parents, he asked, would be glad if “six black Africans with threatening gesture and intimidating tone” surrounded their child coming home from school on the bus? Such issues were continually arising near refugee camps, he asserted.
In Debrecen for example, a Hungarian family man had been beaten by three Nigerian men and a student girl had been robbed by two Algerian men armed with knives. Posán pointed out that Hungary is one of the EU countries that seizes the most illegal migrants, with the number growing twentyfold since 2012. “The numbers this year are even more intimidating,” he added.
Posán said that if the EU is unable to handle illegal immigration on a pan-European level, it must allow the individual member states to legislate. He said the USA, having a democratic constitution, is protecting its southern borders (towards Mexico) with barbed wire and walls, and even shoots at people who cross illegally. The EU was one of the largest refugee stations worldwide and this was not sustainable in the long term.
Opposition: some are happy, others critical
Radical-right party Jobbik party is happy about the government’s National Consultation and for recognising the “immigration problem” at all. Deputy faction leader Dániel Z. Kárpát said he doubted whether the problem could be solved within the countries from where the refugees originated. Kárpát demanded rather that the Hungarian border should be much more closed and there should be no open refugee camps. He wants the immediate rehabilitation of the Border Guard, which was incorporated into the police force a few years ago.
The liberal left opposition party Democratic Coalition (DK) described Orbán’s National Consultation as “despicable and inhumane”. According to DK, Orbán and Fidesz want to criminalise the immigrants driven by their sour fate and turn people against them. Also, Orbán was courting xenophobic Jobbik voters and was ready to squander one billion forints of taxpayers’ money to do so.
Liberal left daily newspaper Népszabadság agreed that the prime minister wants to exploit immigration to shore up his support on the right wing. The paper said he is trying to stem Fidesz’s and his own loss of popularity with a questionnaire that is inacceptable to every person thinking in a humanist way.
FPÖ protests against Hungarian work migrants
Meanwhile in Halbturn, a village in Burgenland by the Austrian-Hungarian border, right-populist party FPÖ has protested against the many work migrants arriving from Hungary. Regional FPÖ politician Johann Tschürz told a demonstration that the border control between Austria and Hungary must be strengthened. He said FPÖ wants to ensure that vacancies in Burgenland are filled primarily by Austrians. About 350,000 Hungarians had migrated to Austria only to work.