Fences and Refugees

By David Iksak

Over the past summer, the growth and spread of ISIS led to the displacement of countless Syrians forced to flee their homeland. The surrounding countries in the Middle East refused to help take these refugees in, leading to waves of Syrians overwhelming Europe, a region in which almost all nations allow the fluid movement of people across their borders. But many of these nations realized that taking in and relocating all these people would strain their welfare systems, lead to less living space in communities, create even more ethnic and religious enclaves, and even threaten the security of their citizens. Hungary is one such nation.

Hungary was originally supposed to allow Syrian refugees in and relocate them, but the Hungarian people vehemently protested against these plans, showing their fervent opposition to Syrians being placed in their communities. Prime Minister Viktor Orban listened and constructed a razor wire border fence along stretches of the Hungarian border. The border fence was met with fierce criticism from western European leaders. French President Francois Hollande compared the Hungarian government to that of the Nazis and claimed that Hungary’s membership in the European Union should be reconsidered. The fence went up anyway.

The border fence actually ended up being successful. Before the fence was completed, thousands of Syrians entered into Hungary each day, but in the week after it was finished, only twenty nine people were able to cross Hungary’s border. The day after the fence went up twelve Syrians made their way into Hungary, the day after that it was only seven, the day after that the number dropped to only four. During the weeks following, there was virtually no movement of Syrians into Hungary.

After Hungary’s defiance in the face of the European Union, other countries were emboldened to make their anti-refugee feelings known. Poland was originally allotted by the EU to take in one thousand refugees this year. The Polish government instead intends to allow in one hundred refugees into their country over the course of four years from 2016 to 2020. Two thirds of Polish people oppose any refugees being placed in their country and other nations are following in that sentiment. Slovakia announced that it would only take in 200 refugees and they would have to be Christian Syrians. An Interior Ministry spokesperson for Slovakia claimed that “Slovakia has no mosques, we only want to choose Christians.” The Danish government went so far as to pay for ads in Middle Eastern media telling Syrian refugees to stay out of Denmark, warning them that they wouldn’t find refuge there. Slovenia has been totally overwhelmed with refugees trying to get to the west, which isn’t sitting well with the government there. The Prime Minister of Slovenia, Miro Cedar claims that “If necessary, we are prepared to put up the fence tomorrow”, flirting with the idea of following in Hungary’s  footsteps and building a border fence. Slovenia’s strategy currently is to funnel all Syrians into Austria. Austria and Croatia, countries which are trying to pick up the slack, are failing miserably in their efforts to shelter the refugees. The Syrians in their camps are being described like animals penned in and living in squalor, but yet they continue to welcome these refugees. If the Austrians can’t effectively take in all the refugees, the Slovenians might actually go through with their fence idea.

If I were Trump I’d be paying attention to this situation in Europe. Hungary’s success is an example of a secured border keeping out unwanted migrants that goes to show Trump might not be as crazy as people think. His talk of a “wall” is often mocked and his name for it, “the great wall of Trump” didn’t help his image as a serious candidate, but if he went into detail with his plan it might actually be taken seriously. The barbed wire fencing along areas of the American border that are close to major cities on both sides of the border are credited with keeping illegal immigration numbers lower than they otherwise would be. More barbed wire or razor wire fencing along parts of the border that are easily crossed would do a lot to bring the number of people entering the country down. The anti-refugee fervor also mirrors the massive support Trump has enjoyed on our side of the pond. Trump’s numbers have always been high and part of the reason is that his message resonates so deeply with so many people.

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