Should I go to Hungary as an immigrant? Does a European citizen have the same value as one who is not? Is there an anti-immigration policy in Hungary? If you followed the news during the last years about what’s happening in Europe about migration movements, probably you will be wondering these questions yourselves. I know it is a very sensitive subject because it is a controversial and political issue. I will try to be as much objective as possible getting the point from my personal experience but supporting my arguments through objective data.
Let’s see from the beginning. In September 2015, it was the period when the refugees started to leave their countries looking for help in Europe. Many of them arrived at Hungary, after a long trip, because it is a country of passage in the middle of Europe. Most of them, after spending few days in Budapest, took a train to other destinations like Germany, Switzerland, or Czech Republic (the so-called rich countries). Others decided to stay. I was in couple of refugee camps where I could see families, children, men and women of all ages. The most important one was Keleti Railway Station. It is the biggest train station in Budapest where you can find any destination you wish to go to in Europe. When I got to the place, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t recognize the station because it was full of people around, walking, sitting, sleeping; definitively, living. A lot of people and organizations were helping there getting provisions from the population, others were organizing the donations of clothes, shoes, blankets, food, etc.
Furthermore, I met many educators who were teaching the children in the camp. It was great seeing a lot of people very worried about the situation offering their help somehow. I was visiting the camp with several friends for one week. Next Monday, after work, I was about to go to keleti keeping deal of help as I was doing the last days. On the way, almost there, I didn’t hear anything, anyone, it was very strange. When I arrived there I found a desolate, bleak and clear landscape. That was exactly what happened, someone ¨cleaned¨ the station as if it were dirt. Who could have done something like that? It was terrible. I was very surprised, as much as my friends were.
With all my pain for those people in need, I started my research in Internet, media, articles, and news. I didn’t understand what was going on there, but all started to make sense. September 16th of 2015, Víktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, ordered the Hungary-Serbia barrier to block entry of illegal immigrants, so that Hungary could register all the migrants arriving from Serbia, closing the route of the Balkans. Besides, the government installed wire fences on the borders with Croatia and Serbia. That’s why in a few days the camp was empty. Refugees who were days ago there, were sent somewhere, nobody knows where. This way the station was cleaned easily and quickly. The immigrants who were coming couldn’t pass the border through Hungary, which caused that they had to find other way to cross Europe, or so stay in the east countries. Others decided to come back to their countries because of European contempt.
Next month’s people just talked about it. I had the chance to speak with many Hungarian people who were against this initiative. However, others defended the actions of the government. I realized how the media is important in this kind of social subjects. The speech of the media said that immigrants don’t have space in the country because they just wanted to steal their jobs, services and opportunities, the ones who weren’t making criminal activities. First, they didn’t difference between immigrants and refugees. It is important to know it is not the same. When we speak about refugees we meant people who are escaping from politic, economic or social problems, in this case it is a war. Law says refugees should get basic help and the same rights than any other foreigner who is a legal resident. Also, the message was very racist and xenophobic ¨every immigrant is a criminal¨. Nevertheless, after couple of months nobody spoke about it anymore. The borders kept closed. No more refugees. No more immigrants. No more human rights. I was very disappointed. How a great country could have an unfair policy system.
One year later the government went one step ahead. On October 2, 2016 it took place a referendum to answer the following question: ¨Do you want to get immigrants in Hungary? ¨. As always in these cases, people were divided in two teams: Yes or No. It is curious how complicate question has a very simple reply. As we can see the problem never was about get refugees or not, the main topic was implant an extremist anti-immigration policy. I asked to one of my Hungarian friends what she thought about it. She told me that she didn’t want to vote. ¨Why not? ¨ it was my first thought. She looked at me immediately very serious: ¨Why should I? Must I waste my time answering something so stupid? ¨. Finally, the referendum did not get the minimum participation indispensable to be valid. It seems that population was smarter than the government.