I'm getting more and more irritated by the angsting and hand-wringing and oh-dear-me approach by the liberal establishment to the so-called "refugee" crisis in Europe. Today's heart-wrenching photographs of a drowned three-year-old refugee are being used to whip up emotional responses to the crisis - but that's only going to make it worse. We can't respond to a crisis with emotions. We've got to deal with its reality.
The problem with refugees in Europe is, fundamentally, the same problem that we have with illegal aliens in the USA. The "refugees" have already escaped the horrors of war in Syria, or Iraq, or Eritrea, or wherever. They've gotten out of the combat zone. What they're now doing is traveling through many other countries in search, not of safety, but of economic improvement. They aren't so much refugees from crisis as they are economic migrants looking for a better way of life.
They see the 'entitlement society' of Europe or the USA, with its no-strings-attached benefits, as an economic Nirvana. They can arrive in a strange country and be given housing at public expense, an allowance on which to live that in many cases exceeds the wages or salaries they were able to earn in their home countries, free education for their children, publicly-funded health care . . . the list goes on and on. That's why these "refugees" aren't stopping in the first safe country they come to. They want more than safety. They want money.
I can't blame them for that, of course. If I were in their shoes, I'd want precisely the same thing. Maslow's hierarchy of needs applies to them as much as it does to me or anyone else, and they're bound and determined to fill that hierarchy as best they can. Unfortunately, to do so they have to rely on the citizens and taxpayers of other countries to provide it for them. They can't or won't do so themselves in the countries where they're living or where they've found safety, so they're moving to where they can get it. The fact that in doing so, they're imposing an impossible burden - financial, social, cultural and in other ways - on the countries to which they're moving is something about which they care not at all.
Illegal aliens from South America who are currently flocking to the USA are doing precisely the same thing. They don't care that they're imposing all sorts of burdens on this country. They want money, possessions, security - things they can't get where they are, but they can get here, because the US government hands them out freely through welfare and entitlement programs. They'll finagle those things out of us one way or another, as long as we allow them to do so - something in which the present Administration is shamefully culpable. Consider:
- Immigrant families, particularly illegals, are far more likely to use welfare or entitlement programs than others.
- Up to 1 in every 10 births in the USA is a so-called 'anchor baby', born to illegal alien parents.
- Medicaid is paying out over $2 billion a year in emergency medical care for illegal aliens (even though they're not legally entitled to it).
The list of costs to the US taxpayer is endless . . . just like the list of costs to European taxpayers of illegal aliens in their countries.
I see only one solution to this "refugee" or illegal alien flood. It's in four parts, and applies not only to the USA but to every nation facing this problem.
- Secure the borders. Make it hard to sneak in, and punish violators harshly, including confiscation of all of their assets before expulsion. In particular, there should be no path to legal residence and/or citizenship for illegal aliens. That last is not negotiable. If they start their residence in a country by violating that country's laws, then by definition they won't make good law-abiding residents or citizens - so don't give them that opportunity at all.
- Provide aid that encourages and helps people who want to find safety and security, and make a better life for themselves, to do so where they are rather than be forced to find somewhere else. That means putting boots on the ground and helping real people, rather than funneling aid money through governments where most of it can be siphoned off by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats.
- If your economy needs cheap labor that its citizens can't provide, offer a guest worker system that's functional, simple and effective. You want to pick crops here for better money than you can earn at home? Sure . . . but you get a six-month visa to do so and you go home when it expires. If you comply with its conditions, you get offered another one next year. If you don't comply and try to stay illegally, or you commit any crime while you're here, you're never allowed back.
- Only those who are legal permanent residents - not guest workers on temporary visas - and who've paid taxes in a country for five years (and I mean paid into the State's coffers, not gotten tax 'refunds' that more than cancel out what they paid in) are eligible to share in the welfare, entitlement programs, etc. Been here less than five years? No way. Been here ten years, but paid taxes for less than five years? Fuggetaboutit. Not a permanent resident? No. Nix. Nada.
Does anyone else have a better idea? If so, please share it in Comments.