Friday, September 04, 2015

The migrant problem

What is it that's sparked off the sudden angst about the refugee crisis? Refugees from Syria have been struggling to find homes in other countries for three or four years. Migrants have been invading Hungary for at least a couple of years (to such an extent that there's now a fence along the Hungarian border), and Sweden has been absorbing migrants for much longer (and is now struggling with the cultural difficulties of a people who won't assimilate).
Australia has been dealing badly with boat people for I don't know how long, and has been virtually imprisoning them on Nauru in appalling conditions.
Boat people have been pushing into Italy for more than a couple of years, or drowning in the Mediterranean.
Is it that we've reached a tipping point? Has a photograph of a small boy drowned on a beach triggered off something particular? It's hard to see why this is different to the photos of hundreds of people on leaky boats hoping against hope that they'll be saved before they drown. And the thing is that there are a number of European nations who are actually doing good work in helping such people.

I think it's amazing that 10,000 Icelanders are prepared to house refugees; but how long for? And where will the refugees go once they want to have their own homes, or when the Icelanders find they're struggling to house them?
Germany is talked about taking in tens of thousands of refugees, and being admired for it. Where exactly is Angela Merkel planning to put all these people? What will it do to the structure of German society?
In the light of the great difficulties the UK is already having with hundreds of thousands of Muslims living in its midst - a number of whom are threatening the fabric of British society - how will they cope with even more? It's become a huge difficulty in Britain - a country with Christian roots - to find that a people living in their midst are denigrating the foundations of their society.

I certainly don't think NZ's immigrant quota is large, but presumably there are people from other nations besides those with refugee status who want to make their homes here. We have taken in large numbers of people before: I can remember during the Hungarian Revolution that a number of Hungarians arrived. And there were many Dutch immigrants arriving when I was a child. And later on Cambodians and Vietnamese began arriving.
As a country we certainly have room for more people; in fact part of our problem is that in some ways we are just a little too small for our own good. I don't have a problem with increasing our quota. I am troubled, however, by the way in which people from a Muslim background have tended not to assimilate in the countries they've gone to. Perhaps this will work out over a couple of generations and the mix will work. But Britain is one of the strongest examples of it not working. And I feel uncomfortable about the possibility that it may not work here either.


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