In Hungary, Viktor Orban’s hypocritical anti-migrant fight

In Hungary Viktor Orbans hypocritical anti migrant fight

Yesterday, they had to be locked up and punished severely in order to stop the “business” of migrant smuggling. Today, under a decree published last April on “reintegration”, Hungary is releasing hundreds of foreign smugglers who have three days to leave the country. “Inmates too expensive” and “prisons overcrowded”, claims Budapest. In addition to the economic argument, Viktor Orban’s government intends to put pressure on the European Union, which has frozen significant funds because of failure to respect the rule of law.

“Hungary must make this decision, because Brussels does not contribute to the costs of border protection, but punishes our country if the prisons are overcrowded. The EU does not give us money to cover the detention of smugglers or to build prisons. prisons”, justified Bence Rétvári, Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior. Angry, neighboring Austria strengthened its border controls with Hungary and described the release of the smugglers as a “very bad message”.

Last May, the Hungarian liberal weekly HVG illustrated the controversial choice of Budapest with a deserted cell in the middle of a flowery field, while a prison guard and his muzzled German shepherd looked elsewhere. “The government provides lame and contradictory explanations for the catastrophe it has been predicting for a long time,” the magazine then considered, judging that Orban wants to “bring back at all costs” the theme of immigration into the Hungarian and continental debate.

Pierced fence

During the refugee crisis of summer 2015, Orban became the champion of the radical rights with a 175-kilometer fence on the Serbian border, blocking entry to the Union and the Schengen area. At the time, his allies – Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini – came to admire the wall presented as the rampart of Christian Europe. Even Tucker Carlson, former star host of Fox News, went there to praise the building in a film glorifying Budapest’s anti-migrant policy in particular!

The fact remains that, despite the thermal cameras, the electrified gates, the border hunters, the military and the police, the 1.6 billion euro fortress is cracking on all sides. In 2022, after two years of calm during the Covid pandemic, smuggler convoys and illegal crossings have exploded. The Magyar police counted 162,000 attempts between January and the end of August last year. “In the eyes of the Hungarian state, nothing was more important than protecting the country from foreigners, hence the ostentatious barricade built without sparing money and energy. But as one could predict, the fence is unable to stop those heading west, tackles journalist Márton Bede of the opposition portal Anyone who wants can cross the country in the back of a Moldovan van. Some get caught, but this does not change the influx of refugees,” asserts the editorialist.

Subtle distinction

Behind the unraveling of the right to asylum, the hostile propaganda denouncing the danger of “migratory overwhelm” and the refusal of “multi-ethnic” societies, Hungary nevertheless facilitates the arrival of non-European workers to make up for the lack of local labor and contain demographic decline. The executive resolutely distinguishes “illegal migrants” from “guest workers”, whose number and stay it ensures it controls, which a bill should cap at three years from November 1.

In fact, the needs are immense. In Tiszaujvaros (north-east of the country), Turks, Indians, Romanians and Ukrainians work on a MOL petrochemical complex, the “Hungarian Total”. In Iváncsa, in the center of the country, Romanians, Poles, Slovaks, Mongols, Colombians, Kyrgyz and Russians operate the battery factory of the Korean group SK Innovation. And in the west, in Tab, the local subsidiary of an American company employs 30% foreigners, including 400 Filipinos. Finally, at Waberer’s, the country’s main transporter which is majority owned by Viktor Orbán’s son-in-law, Indian and Kenyan heavy goods vehicle drivers compensate for the shortage of Hungarian truck drivers.

According to the Hungarian national statistics institute KSH, the country had 74,000 foreign workers in mid-2022, or 20% more than in mid-2021. Tourism, agriculture, hotels and restaurants and industry concentrate the majority of these which we call “vendégmunkások”. “If you come to Hungary, you cannot take the jobs of Hungarians,” urged one of the campaign posters for a national consultation on immigration and terrorism in May 2015. Eight years later, the slogan is no longer worth anything.