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the migrant crisis
Hungary Passes Draconian “Emergency” Immigration Laws

Using the immigration crisis as a pretext, Hungary’s ruling party has passed a series of “emergency” laws that trample on several basic liberal values—and, probably not coincidentally, may not affect only immigrants. Reuters reports:

Hungary’s parliament passed a series of laws on Friday to control the flow of migrants into the country, giving police more authority and setting out strict punishments including prison terms for illegal border crossing.

Hungary is constructing a fence along its border with Serbia, hoping to stem an inflow of migrants after tens of thousands, mostly from places like Syria and Afghanistan, entered the country in recent months.

New laws will make it a criminal offence to cross or damage the fence, and illegal border crossing will be punishable by up to three years in jail.

We wrote about the possible authoritarian turn in Hungary in Wednesday’s edition of our morning news digest “Seven in the Morning” (if you don’t subscribe yet, do—you’ll be days ahead of the news):

The Hungarian ruling right-wing Fidesz party introduced two contentious bills yesterday, using the migrant crisis as a pretext to fast-track them through parliament as early as Friday. The bills (one, two) declare a state of emergency and give the government all manners of extraordinary powers, including the authority to imprison migrants for a variety of activities currently permitted under EU laws, and to prosecute Hungarian citizens for aiding migrants. The bills would allow the police to conduct searches without warrants, and the army to use force if necessary. In addition, expansive surveillance measures appear to be a part of the bill, including the creation of a national database of all Hungarian citizens, as well as provisions mandating that telecoms grant the government broad access to their networks, allowing it to intercept data in bulk.

The immigrant crisis is of course real, and it’s legitimate for nations to reassert control over their borders. But history shows us that unscrupulous actors will gladly use legitimate crises to seize extraordinary powers.

As several Hungary-watchers have told us, this move by Orban’s Fidesz serves two purposes. First, it takes the issue away from the far-right Jobbik party, which has been surging in opinion polls. Second, it provides a handy cudgel with which to bludgeon its opponents on the left. Many opposition parties in Hungary have committed to helping migrants through grassroots efforts—as part of one such effort, the country’s former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany has been taking in migrant families for one or two nights in his home. Early reads of the bills indicate that this kind of program may now be in trouble.

One of the reasons we have so consistently decried the failure of the elites in regard to immigration is that it opens the door to illiberal politicians. Recently in the West, this has manifested itself as bluster—think Donald Trump’s calls for undoing the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship provisions, or any number of rants from the leaders of euroskeptic parties—like France’s Front National—that are out of power but popular in the polls.

We’ll have to see how far, and to what ends, Fidesz wants to push its newly-acquired powers. But a new, uglier phase in European politics could be upon us.

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  • Boritz

    “it opens the door to illiberal politicians. Recently in the West, this has manifested itself as bluster—think Donald Trump’s calls for undoing the 14th Amendment’s birthright citizenship provisions”

    Countries that have repealed birthright citizenship:
    Australia (2007), New Zealand (2005), Ireland (2005), France (1993), India (1987), Malta (1989), UK (1983), Portugal (1981)


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    • kwijino

      Not to mention, we never ever passed it in the first place. That nonsense was foisted on us in a footnote in a decision by Justice Brennan in 1981. A footnote! It’s the job of Congress to make laws in the US, not the people in black robes.

      • Nick

        The Judicial Oligarchy has to be taken down a peg. Join the Article V Convention of States movement, and remove power from the corrupt DC elite, and return it to the States.

    • Nick

      Countries that still have it… Canada – and it a drastically restricted form.

      Thank you for stating this.

  • pantherblue

    I wouldn’t be too quick to throw roses on the former PM Gyurcsany. Yes, Fidesz is authoritarian and Jobbik is fascist but the “Socialist Party” (read former Communist) created the current situation. Here’s a press report from back then:

    BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — A leaked recording that caught Hungary’s prime minister admitting the government had “lied morning, evening and night” about the economy has prompted protests outside parliament and calls Monday for his resignation.

    The tape was made at a closed-door meeting in late May, weeks after Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany’s government became the first in post-communist Hungary to win re-election.

    It seemed to confirm the worst accusations leveled at him by the center-right opposition during the campaign — that Hungary’s state budget was on the verge of collapse and that Gyurcsany and his ministers were concealing the truth to secure victory.

    Adding spice to the scandal, Gyurcsany’s comments were full of crude remarks and called into doubt the abilities of some of Hungary’s most respected economic experts.

    “We screwed up. Not a little, a lot,” Gyurcsany was heard saying. “No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have.”


    The prime minister also told colleagues the government needed to end its duplicitous ways.

    “I almost died when for a year and a half we had to pretend we were governing. Instead, we lied morning, evening and night. I don’t want to do this anymore,” he told his fellow Socialists.

    The 45-year-old Gyurcsany, his party’s golden boy since he was elected prime minister in late 2002, said the economy had been kept afloat only through “divine providence, the abundance of cash in the world economy and hundreds of tricks.”

  • Dantes

    It is pure fiction that some people managed to interpret the 14th amendment as requiring us to grant birthright citizenship.

    What is happening in Europe is not immigration, it is an invasion. Same here.

    • TMLutas

      What is happening in the US is that we have had an unspoken arrangement. So long as there’s only a few tens of thousands of illegals, we don’t make a big fuss over illegal immigration. Even Donald Trump doesn’t make a big deal about irish illegals (about 50k) nor should he. They’re not a major threat and the cost/benefit ratio of cracking down on the irish, the poles, or the romanians doesn’t make much sense. There are so many illegal immigrants from Mexico (about 6m) that the cost/benefit does make sense. Also, Mexico uniquely has land claims against the US and a tiny movement promoting those claims. The creepy racialist tendency of accepting organizations called “la raza” as representing them also makes them a special case.

      The situation isn’t so bad that it is justified to lump every set of illegals together.

      • HughdePayens

        Why yes it is so bad that we need to make a big deal about it. H1B visas have murdered an entire class of American college grads who are passed over by the likes of Facebook and Microsoft for a slew of Indians making slave wages.
        All immigration needs to stop.

        • TMLutas

          Moving goal posts are we?

          H1B visa holders are, by their nature, not illegal immigrants. I happen to be in a profession (IT) very vulnerable to H1B competition so I’m perfectly aware of that issue.

          It’s separate.

          If you prefer companies to outsource work, and even entirely move overseas, get rid of the labor visas. You want to get rid of entrepreneurs visas for people making 10, 100, or 1000 decent paying US jobs? Are you really saying that you want to leave Catholic (and other faiths’) parishes without their temporary and permanent immigrant priests? You want to make every american who fell in love with a foreigner an ex-pat?

          Without immigration, we’d never have beat the Soviets to the moon, Intel wouldn’t be an american company, if it existed at all, and countless personal success stories would be turned to miserable tragedies. Go read how many visa categories there actually are out there. There are a lot of them and many of them cause very little trouble economically.

          Your current position, if taken literally, is a joke. If taken as hyperbole, it’s rude to move the goalposts by introducing it as a reply to my comment on illegal immigration.

          • HughdePayens

            I prefer organizations to be taxed at a separate rate if they move off-shore and I prefer putting tariffs on goods coming from countries that are not free…
            All immigration needs to be shut down. Give it 5 year and re-evaluate.

          • TMLutas

            That’s very nice. In some other discussion it might even be relevant. You’ve demonstrated factual ignorance on the issue of immigration. Go and read 8CFR Part 214 so you at least understand what you are saying. 214.2 might be especially helpful to avoid continued beclownment. Here’s Cornell’s copy:


  • pabarge

    Who is the author of this article? And why does this website hide the names of its authors?

  • Dagnabbit_42

    I ask you,

    Taken by itself, what on earth could be wrong with repealing birthright citizenship solely for persons born to a parent who is illegally in the country at the time? How is that wicked or cruel? For that matter, how is it anything other than sensible?

    For it is only sensible to acknowledge that human beings will, at least on the margins, respond to incentives. As one reduces the incentives for illegal border-crossing and overstaying, the number of illegal border-crossers and overstayers will drop by some amount. How is that a bad thing?

    And how is it a bad thing to write laws in such a way that rewards the law-abiding more than the law-breaking? What’s wrong with that principle? Isn’t it perfectly reasonable?

    My sense is that persons of the arrogant, tenured social-elite variety are afraid to admit the basic rationality of this position. I think they are afraid because holding the opposite view is taken to be a (somewhat arbitrary) marker of sophistication, and they don’t want to be excluded from their comfortable social circles for having taken a view associated with blue-collar rubes.

    This, I think, is the reason they’re quick to sniff at such a position as “nativist” and “xenophobic” and, of course, “racist.” They like to think that anyone of a lower caste than themselves is an unenlightened rube in one way or another, and the idea that these lesser beings would call them out for supporting an irrational policy and be right about it is inconceivable. Thus the need to hurl the all-purpose “racist” accusation at a bunch of perfectly nice middle-class Americans whose only offense is to feel that, if they follow the rules, other people ought to, as well.

    For that is the middle class, in a nutshell. At 3 o’clock in the morning, they stop at stoplights in the middle of nowhere, even though they can see that absolutely nobody’s coming the other way. They don’t run it, because you don’t do that. And they think that following the rules pays off in the end. They still have faith in the orderliness of civil society. And please note: That faith is the reason civil society can function smoothly.

    What if the middle class ever do become wholly converted to another faith, in which the whole “Rule of Law” thing is perceived as a sucker’s game and a fool’s errand? Where every man begins to see it as his moral obligation the skirt the law in spirit or letter, because it’s the only way to get ahead and his obligation is to his family, not to Washington? That way, my friends, lies Greece, with its near 100% rate of tax-evasion.

    So the issue of birthright citizenship, of sealing the borders, of prosecuting businesses (and their officers) who knowingly hire illegals, and of prosecuting businesses who don’t go to reasonable lengths to make sure they aren’t hiring illegals, is a matter of preserving society. NO, not because Mexican people are somehow intrinsically bad for society; they aren’t. It’s a matter of preserving society from adopting a new civic religion: One in which crime is perceive to pay, and laws are things to roll one’s eyes at.

    Oh, one other thing.

    Majorities should not get their way when getting their way involves violating the natural rights of the minority.

    But a majority of Americans of both parties are OK with repealing birthright citizenship for children of illegals, and birthright citizenship is a repealable civic right originating from a social contract, NOT a natural right endowed by the Creator. (God, so far as anyone can tell, has never made an Eleventh Commandment endowing parents with the right to pass on to their children the ill-gotten gains of their own lawbreaking.)

    So you can’t deprive children of illegals of their freedom of speech, or free exercise of religion, or such things. You can’t kill them, or conduct scientific experiments on them. They are human.

    But you can, under natural law, gradually expel them from the country, for those born after the repeal. (Not those born before. No ex post facto laws.)

    So what’s the problem?

    • Nick

      The problem is that the elites see the future as 10 billion human beings, and that it is more properly managed as ruling class and serf. A self aware, independent America is a threat to this future, so the only way to destroy that is to destroy America.

      As Mark Steyn says, you can mix ice cream and dog poop, but its not going to taste like ice cream when its done.

  • texasjimbo

    Lets take score. The left insists that we must accept unlimited numbers of immigrants. Those immigrants increase unemployment, lower wages, consume government services at a far higher rate than citizens on average. Some of (in the USA) to many (in Europe) of those immigrants are highly resistant to assimilation and even outwardly hostile to he cultures, traditions, and institutions of their host countries. A non trivial number of them are inclined to use violence to express that hostility, and a good number come not to work but to freeload. Leftist politicians and activists conspire to enable/encourage the illegal immigrants by ignoring or breakings existing laws and labeling critics as “nativists” (as the writers of this piece did). From this situation, these writers believe that laws obviously designed to hamper the illegal behavior of the left and a potentially existential threat from the immigration is the problem, not the behavior of the left and the immigrants. Makes perfect sense. If you view the culture of the immigrant’s homelands as superior to your own, as the left explicitly does.

  • OC21

    I think what your seeing is that the pendulum had swung so far to the left on immigration policy that now it naturally will to swing the far right before it swings to the middle.

  • James_IIa

    I thought of AI as offering analytic pieces. It’s surprising to see overt hostility expressed in this article.

    But, to the point, European countries are facing a crisis of uncontrolled immigration because of the wars in Asia and Africa. It’s perfectly reasonable for them to enact laws to deal with the crisis. That’s not to say that their measures are the best choices, but they fall within the options of a sovereign nation. A more effective option would probably involve stopping the crisis by crushing ISIS and Boko Haram. That would be within the capacity of the EU without American help.

    • Nick

      Agreed. Whether one believes it was right to go in to Iraq in the first place, any thinking being knew that chaos would descend the minute we left. And we have compounded this by not smashing them (which could have been done by air early on, but Obola was too much of an asterisk to do that…)

      The boy on the beach is as much Obola’s and Europe’s victim (by inaction) as it is ISIS and the Islamic Movement.

      • James_IIa

        It’s a certainty that the US will not do anything soon, but the floods of refugees are washing up on European shores, so they need to handle it with or without help from the US.

  • qet

    I wonder whether anyone has analyzed these migrations, as well as the mass migrations of Central Americans into the USA, with a view to their similarities to the “barbarian” migrations of the 4th and 5th centuries of Goths, Vandals, Huns et al. Those peoples migrated to Europe and displaced the Romans, Gauls, Celts because they themselves were displaced from their ancestral lands by other tribes/nations migrating from further East/North. Immigrants en masse do not assimilate; they displace. So it does not seem unreasonable for the current occupants of Hungary, Austria et al. to resist being displaced. Yet such resistance–whether passive only (conceptually) or active (physically preventing or removing migrants)–is uniformly portrayed in the Left-dominated Western media as morally wrong per se.

    Publications like TAI and, I’m sorry to say (because I think so highly of their chief writers), The Federalist, want to remain above the Trumpian fray by droning on about “rational policy,” as though there were in reality more than two choices for any policy, rational or not: keep them out, or let them in. As though there were a way, via “rational policy,” to keep them out (should that be your choice) without physically confronting, physically handling them in some fashion. And with every single individual physical confrontation of every degree, from not-harsh-at-al all the way to extremely-harsh, being photographed or videoed and held up to the scrutiny of all the world’s billions not within a thousand miles of the scene on social media that registers and records mass instantaneous emotive impulse reaction, physical action becomes categorically unacceptable, leaving but one “choice” (there is no choice where there is no alternative) for any policy: let them in and let them stay. So exactly what is this rational policy debate we keep hearing about from TAI going to consist of? How do the rationalists among us propose to implement a rational “keeping out” by means that won’t involve the physical, more-or-less rough handling of some infants and women and children somewhere at some time?

  • Marian Kechlibar

    Dear author, you do not seem to understand just how serious the current migration crisis in Europe is. Already the current stream of migrants, coming from half of the third world (not just Syria, but Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Erithrea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Kosovo etc.), is simply unmanageable. If it increases further – and it might, given the billions of people living in poverty in Asia and Africa, and now having the idea that Germany is some kind of paradise) – the ensuing chaos may well explode into a very dirty war. Mass migration of nations was always a violent story. Look no further than your own conquest of the Western frontier in the 19th century.

    • TMLutas

      You might understand US attitudes better if you take a look at how many migrants we take in, a bit under 20% of the global total. Why are europeans less flexible than us? Why are they unable to assimilate as well as us?

      The smaller your benefit levels, the more manageable immigration becomes. Get over WW I (and II) and the psychological problems that have been rumbling around for decades as a consequence and take some pride in your country and retake your place as culturally confident parts of the human race. If they want to assimilate, let them in and let “them” become “us”. If they don’t want to assimilate, have a little pity and feed them before you move them on.

      • Comrade Pootie

        They are the ones who don’t want to become a us

        • TMLutas

          Some of them don’t, but some of them do. Deny their entry or continued right to stay based on that factor of demonstrated willingness to assimilate and you have a very different political situation.

          It’s not like the hungarians don’t have centuries of experience on how to do this. They know perfectly well how to run this game. Just ask anybody in their former european colonial possessions in the old austro-hungarian empire.

          • texasjimbo

            Given the fate of he Austo-Hungarian empire, you might be a little too sanguine about the likely outcome. Too many of the people being let in today have more interest in conquest than in assimilation.

          • TMLutas

            Would you feel better if I had said the Kingdom of Hungary from which those habits arose? Let it be so because there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two on this issue.

      • ThomBurr

        “If they don’t want to assimilate, have a little pity and feed them before you move them on.”

        Reasons why NOT to feed the pigeons–

        Pretty much everything in this piece also applies to the economic migrants running riot across Europe.

        On an unrelated note, it’s surprising the citizens of San Francisco don’t apply such sensible policies to their own flocks of homeless people.

        • TMLutas

          I get what you’re trying to do and it’s sort of clever in its way. We simply don’t agree that this analogy works.
          1. Humans and pigeons are not the same thing, not even close.
          2. I mentioned feeding them before moving them on to specifically avoid dehumanization. You’re embracing dehumanization. This is not good for your own soul and it also doesn’t work well politically to create a durable majority for a sane immigration policy. Humane treatment as we move ineligible immigrants out of country is a key to political sustainability.
          3. The city of San Francisco is still getting it wrong

      • Marian Kechlibar

        Your comment touches many topics. You are right that generous benefits work as a magnet. Almost everyone in those millons wants to get to Germany. My own country, Czechia, is absolutely ignored, there have been some 40 asylum requests since January 2015. In Germany they expect a million or more! Note that we are neighbors.
        The continental welfare state model could kinda-sorta work, though not brilliantly, and the population is accustomed to it. The deadly combination is welfare state + anti-discrimination theory, which in practice meant opening the welfare benefits to anyone who cares to turn up. The German Constitutional Court ruled in 2012 that asylum seekers are entitled to “dignified” pocket money, which in practice means 150-300 Euro monthly per capita. This is the base of the current human wave, because such amount of money exceeds average salary in most of the world.
        As for your (US) migrants, the kind of migrants that you get from overseas are mostly educated people with talent. Sort-of inverse brain drain. No one crosses the Atlantic on a raggedy boat and you get to choose. Europe must cope with, for example, illiterate Afghan youths, some of whom have already killed people in action, and some of whom actually root for the Taliban. I do not believe that anyone can accomodate them. Look at the Afghanistan after 14 years of sincere U.S. rebuilding effort. It cost a trillion dollars and the result is not very encouraging.

        • TMLutas

          Thanks for pointing out anti discrimination theory’s impact on the situation. I do think you are misreading US immigration though. It is really a Latin American problem with Mexico being at the heart of it. Mexico is a land border so no ocean mediates and reduces there. A good history of Texas will make obvious the dangers of unassimilated immigration on that border. What Mexico is doing today is very similar to what we did with Texicans.

          Multi-kulti seems the easiest policy option to get rid of. It will happen peacefully from the top down or violently from the bottom up. The morally decent observer will try for the former.

  • HughdePayens

    What this article illustrates is just how deeply the elite control all information. This article is sheer bloody nonsense from beginning to end. It serves only one purpose big business.

  • Comrade Pootie

    A responsible move by Hungary.

  • The Lockean

    Extraordinary responses to unfettered illegal immigration wouldn’t be required if elitists like this author hadn’t help impose an untenable situation in the first place. All the smarts in the world, yet everything they touch turns to lead.

  • jeburke

    The potential to be overrun by immigrants from a near abroad attracted by greater affluence was already huge. Add a potential of millions displaced by endless sectarian war across the Muslim world and you can bet that Hungary is only slightly ahead of the curve. Trouble is, though, at least half of those elites — on the left — are clueless and the other half — eg, Merkel – are afraid of attacks by the left. Who is left, if not those supposedly ‘right wing’ parties?

  • Beauceron

    How DARE a country listen to it’s citizens! How dare they protect their interests, culture and sense of peoplehood!

    It’s an outrage! It’s illiberal!

    None of the above, of course, applies to any Latin American, African, Middle Eastern, or Asian country. They have unique and beautiful cultures that must be respected and preserved. We wouldn’t want to be racists!

  • madjakk

    Does this article have a point other than to show the cognitive dissonance of the author?
    Hungary and her people feel a threat from what amounts to an invasion of foreign nationals who are illegally busting down her borders and wreaking havoc on their society…..if I was a taxpayer in Hungary, I would be pissed if the government did nothing to enforce the borders.
    What the hell is this suppose to mean?
    “”Using the immigration crisis as a pretext, Hungary’s ruling party has passed a series of “emergency” laws that trample on several basic liberal values—and, probably not coincidentally, may not affect only immigrants.””
    BUT….then again…almost as a liability statement.
    “”The immigrant crisis is of course real, and it’s legitimate for nations to reassert control over their borders.””

    The only thing about this article that’s plain is this authors contempt for the current leadership in Hungary’s government.
    Further, its not a stretch to presume that if a left leaning government was in place in Hungary and acted similarly…..we would be hearing crickets.

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