Throughout the globe, human rights are being forfeited for the sake of senseless nationalism. This phenomenon is exemplified in the case of Hungary, which is accepting refugees from Venezuela. These statements may seem contradictory, but these “open arms” are selective. The refugees accepted from Venezuela are only those who have verifiable Hungarian heritage, which makes for an estimated total of a mere 350 people, according to the BBC News and Reuters. Moreover, their acceptance is only a face-saving tactic by the Hungarian government to fulfill the responsibility to uphold human rights in accordance with international laws and European Union (EU) requirements, while also being able to deny entry to asylum seekers in Serbia, for example. All of this is occurring under the administration of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who ran his campaign entirely on opposition to immigration. Thus, the acceptance of Venezuelans with Hungarian descent is being legitimized via primordial nationalism, under the claim that they are Hungarian due to the blood coursing through their veins. As Orbán’s chief of staff Gergely Gulyas said, “… we do not consider Hungarians migrants. They, like any other Hungarian, have a right to return home.” Their assimilation into the country is also being facilitated by the Hungarian government by providing cultural and language courses to the refugees (as well as airline tickets, housing, and documents enabling them to find work). This aid is not afforded to Muslim asylum seekers, who are only allowed to pass the Hungarian-Serbian border two at a time, if at all, as reported by NPR.
Asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Syria, and other such countries are being held in refugee camps in Serbia, where some were once dog shelters. Another factor to the inhumane treatment these asylum seekers are facing is the deprivation of food; the Council of Europe has found that adults and children alike are being detained arbitrarily and denied meals. Furthermore, the limit of one refugee per day allowed to come through the two “transit zones” into Hungary makes it so that only unaccompanied minors or single men can enter the country; families are facing separation. The people living in these camps have been waiting for admittance for months on end; some have even been waiting over a year. Moreover, the Hungarian legislation has criminalized support to asylum applications and narrowed eligibility for refugee status to people arriving directly from the nations where their lives and freedoms are at risk, making the entire process even more difficult. This has led entities such as the Belgian city of Brussels and the European Commission to refer the nation of Hungary to the Court of Justice for going against EU law.
When Hungary refuses to accept asylum seekers in order to “preserve” Hungarian identity, not only is it shirking off the responsibility to protect refugees to the rest of the international community and neglecting human rights, it is also going against the country’s own best interest. Hungary, like many other nations, has a declining population. The fertility rate recorded in 2018 for the country is 1.5 children per woman, which is below the 2.1 needed in order to maintain the population. The most sensible remedy to such a problem would be – as scholars like Jack A. Goldstone argue – to accept migrants from the developing nations that are seeing an increasing fertility rate, as they will be able to join the dwindling productive population in developed countries and help fortify economic growth, healthcare, and military strength. In his article, The New Population Bomb: The Four Megatrends That Will Change the World, Goldstone expressed fear of the developed nations’ possible loss of hegemony. This fear is based on the data collected by the United Nations that revealed that in the next four decades, there will be a 25% demographic weight drop and decline in labor forces within developed nations, along with a population growth concentrated in the poorest, youngest, and primarily Muslim countries. Therefore, the movement of people that we are currently seeing in the world will not even compare to the waves of migrations to come. However, it is not necessary to dread the inevitable. As Goldstone put forth, the young, fast-growing populations of the developing world – where the education and employment opportunities are lacking – can fill the labor forces of the developed nations and influence the movement of capital to them, too. But those populations have to be welcomed in if that is to happen.
As of now, Orbán’s administration has put in place a pro-procreation policy in hopes of making the population grow without need of migrants. Hungary is now waiving the obligation of paying income taxes to women who have four or more children. However, policies such as this were implemented in other countries in the past and have ended in failure. Romania, for example, put forth a “celibacy tax” on women who did not bear children before turning 45 in 1966. The population ended up being barely higher than neighboring countries where abortion was common. In the case of Hungary, a low fertility rate is not the only cause of its declining population. Since 2006, nearly a million Hungarians have emigrated from the country, with only a few hundred having returned. Why are people leaving? The answer is simple: money. A survey conducted by Publicus Research reported that 47% of Hungarians believe people leave because they cannot earn enough to live in the country, 23% said there are not enough jobs in Hungary, and 20% cited the country’s economic situation generally as a reason to emigrate. If people keep leaving, who will maintain the manufacturing, technological, and agricultural industries? Who will pay the nation’s taxes? Who will serve in Hungary’s military?
It only makes sense for Hungary to drop the nationalism that only allows for the acceptance of an insignificant few, and keeps so many others out of the country. Otherwise, it will continue to perpetuate a dwindling population that will in turn continue a decrease in productivity within the country and further weaken the nation’s economy. To continue pushing nationalistic values is to be irrational. And Hungary is not alone in this nonsensical agenda. The more economically developed nations of the world, such as other European nations, the United States, South Korea, and Japan are seeing a fall in fertility rates. These countries, and many others, are putting forth anti-immigrant rhetoric, despite needing immigrants to balance out the population that is increasingly becoming older, and thus not contributing to the nations’ economies. Orbán might say that “migration for us is surrender,” but surrender is in order if he wants his nation to survive.