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Immigration: A Bavarian - british Shitstorm

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Default profile picture Thomas Glasser

And so another wave of immigration sweeps through Europe. But this wave has not swept across Europe’s borders as many predicted- oh no- this wave of immigration has swept through people’s minds, or more specifically through the minds of politicians in London and Munich. What ever happened to the Romanian-Bulgarian shitstorm being bigged up by the far-right??

As Jan­u­ary rolled in, the only Ro­ma­ni­ans and Bul­gar­i­ans on buses and planes out of Sofia or Bucharest were off on hol­i­day or were al­ready study­ing else­where in the EU. Bus com­pa­nies com­plained of half-empty buses. The air­craft fly­ing from Ro­ma­nia and Bul­garia to Lon­don and other Eu­ro­pean cap­i­tal cities weren’t, as many had pre­dicted, full of im­mi­grants gag­ging for ben­e­fits. De­spite des­per­ate searches by jour­nal­ists at air­ports and bus sta­tions, there was hardly a Ro­man­ian or Bul­gar­ian émigré to be found. Mean­while the im­mi­gra­tion de­bate in Mu­nich reached its nadir.

It’s gen­er­ally ac­cepted that to dis­credit im­mi­gra­tion you have to take a highly sim­pli­fied ap­proach. Ad­dress­ing the issue in its full com­plex­ity pre­sents a very dif­fer­ent re­al­ity.

The Bavar­ian CSU party has led the way: “Wer betrügt, der fliegt” they say- “Who­ever cheats, flies.” In other words, im­mi­grants who abuse so­cial wel­fare in Ger­many should be de­ported. It seems that tak­ing a stand against wel­fare fraud gives you po­lit­i­cal carte-blanche to say what you like. In­dig­na­tion against ben­e­fit fraud is se­lec­tively ap­plied by politi­cians. Those politi­cians cur­rently ril­ing them­selves up against scroung­ing im­mi­grants gladly avert their eyes from tax eva­sion in the upper ech­e­lons of so­ci­ety. Im­mi­grants on mea­gre so­cial ben­e­fits bear the brunt of so­ci­ety’s sus­pi­cion. “Im Zweifel gegen Im­mi­granten” (Doubts about im­mi­grants), so the say­ing goes. Mean­while, the wind from the Bavar­ian shit­storm has al­ready veered off in an­other di­rec­tion. On­line de­bates rage as to where the pres­i­dent of FC Bay­ern Mu­nich, Uli Hoe­ness, will tod­dle off to, if shortly con­victed of tax eva­sion.

The slo­gan “Who­ever cheats, flies” in­sin­u­ates that im­mi­grants seek to ex­ploit the so­cial wel­fare sys­tem in par­tic­u­larly in­sid­i­ous ways. In this vein Elmar Brok of the CDU party has called for ben­e­fit cheat­ing im­mi­grants to be fin­ger-printed. Such an op­pres­sive ab­sur­dity would fo­ment fur­ther  sus­pi­cion to­wards im­mi­grants.

In so doing, the per­ti­nent facts about im­mi­gra­tion are ef­fec­tively side­tracked. In Ger­many, ex­pressed as a per­cent­age, peo­ple from Ro­ma­nia and Bul­garia are no more likely to claim ben­e­fits than Ger­mans. As for the much dis­cussed “poverty mi­gra­tion”, there’s noth­ing of the sort. In many cases, im­mi­grants shore up the gaps that ap­pear in the Ger­man labour mar­ket. Many jobs are cre­ated through the ideas of the new­com­ers.

Scor­ing po­lit­i­cal points at the ex­pense of im­mi­grants is not a phe­nom­e­non solely re­served to Ger­many. In the United King­dom, the Pol­ish are on av­er­age bet­ter ed­u­cated than the British and make con­sid­er­able con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try’s eco­nomic per­for­mance. Not to men­tion the fact that the le­gion of 2.2 mil­lion Brits set­tled across the EU wouldn’t be too keen to be per­ceived as sec­ond-class cit­i­zens

Too often are cases con­flated into the theme of im­mi­gra­tion, ones which clearly bear no sim­i­lar­i­ties to one an­other. The term “Sozial­touris­mus” (So­cial wel­fare tourism) has thus gone on to win the ac­co­lade of the nas­ti­est phrase in Ger­man-speak­ing re­gions. Rightly so, see­ing as im­mi­gra­tion has noth­ing to do with tourism, a phe­nom­e­non syn­ony­mous with sub­sidi­s­a­tion. Im­mi­grants who move to other Eu­ro­pean coun­tries can usu­ally only claim ben­e­fits after three months. The de­plorable pro­pa­ganda com­ing out of Mu­nich and Lon­don doesn’t ex­actly en­tice peo­ple to im­mi­grate into hot nests of stigma. That would be shit for every­one. 

This article is part of Cafébabel's special series of articles on immigration.

Translated from Immigration: Bayrisch-britischer Shitstorm