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Hungary’s mounting immigration problem

January 26th, 2015

In the wake of Prime Minister Orbán’s calls for stricter immigration policies within the European Union, weeklies ruminate over the steeply mounting number of asylum seekers and fear that rather than a transit country, Hungary will be targeted by them as their future country of residence.

The number of asylum seekers in Hungary has increased twenty-one fold over the past two years, Zsuzsa Hernádi writes in Demokrata. While they numbered just over 2000 in 2012, more than 42,000 foreign nationals applied for asylum in Hungary last year. Hungary thus lags behind Germany, but precedes the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Austria, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. Public expenditure on immigration only increased from 1 to 2.6 billion Forints during the past two years, because for the moment Hungary remains a transit country, with migrants typically ending up in the West. If, however, the number of immigrants continues to double every year, Hernádi surmises, Hungary might soon find itself with a million migrants within its borders. She ends her piece with a reference to  the Roman Empire which imploded, she tells her readers, among other reasons because it could not resist the huge influx of people from the East.

In Hetek, Zsolt Hazafi warns that during less than two weeks at the beginning of the year, over 6000 migrants asked for asylum in Hungary, more than twice as many as during the corresponding period in 2014. 99% were caught while illegally crossing the border and requested asylum in order to avoid expulsion. Most of them escape to the West while their requests are being processed. However an increasing number of refugees are being sent back to Hungary, with most of them trying to get back to western countries again and again. The government suspects that Germany and Austria have decided to expel an ever increasing number of such migrants to Hungary. Nor does it welcome EU plans to distribute migrants more or less proportionally among member countries which would mean that Hungary should hosts at least 10-15,000 Pakistani or Afghan refugees. For the moment, Hungary is a transit country for migrants, but being one of the fifty “most desirable” countries, migrants may end up choosing it as their permanent residence if the West repels them. Since many do not produce credible IDs, a potential wave of immigration will also increase Hungary’s exposure to terrorism, Hazafi believes. In other words, the Prime Minister may urge stricter immigration policies within the European Union for domestic consumption, in order to deprive the radical right-wing of one of his favourite propaganda themes, but he certainly has to face a real and mounting problem of immigration, Hetek’s analyst suggests.