The New Europeans are hard-working, presentable, well educated, and integrate so perfectly that they will disappear within a generation. I have admiration for their Mittel-European sophistication, a soft spot for their historical fatalism, and a weakness for their vodka-soaked parties. I grew up with Poles and Russians circulating through my Cambridge family home in the 1970s, and spent time as a teenager behind the Iron Curtain listening to wonderful young Hungarians dream of breathing free. And now they are. They are as perfect immigrants as one could wish for.
And yet. And yet. Immigration is not just about quality but about numbers. And the numbers of Eastern Europeans arriving here in the past two years have been extraordinary — far exceeding the government’s reassuring predictions. The Home Office said that between 5,000 and 13,000 would turn up, but it was wrong by a factor of as much as 60: the latest count is 293,000. Even that, however, is almost certainly a huge underestimate. The Association of Labour Providers, which represents recruitment agencies, reckons twice as many have arrived.
The New Europeans are not confined to London, though their numbers are greatest in the capital. Newsnight discovered last week that 3,000 Poles have settled in Crewe, which has a population of 48,000. Jason Canny, the head of the recruitment agency that brought them in after opening an office in Poland said, ‘It’s quite mind-blowing the changes that we’ve gone though as a town — and I’ve been personally responsible. The migrating workforce that has come into the UK is far bigger than people realise. Not just in our area, but nationally.’ And in Crewe, as elsewhere, they are coming to settle: families are being brought over and schools are filling up with sparky Eastern European kids. One Catholic school in Crewe ended up with 23 extra Polish pupils. So much for the government’s oft-repeated claim that they are just temporary workers who would go back. ~Anthony Browne, The Spectator
I would say something about Enoch Powell at this point, but I think we all get the idea. Immigrants may be as well-educated, industrious and keen to assimilate as you please (not that most immigrants to America have most of these qualities), and if there are a great many of them they will still create upheaval in society, impose new costs on institutions and change the culture to an unacceptable and undesirable degree. In America, as in Britain, the main immigration problem is not an onrush of educated central and eastern Europeans, but Mr. Browne’s article about this very sort of immigrant only highlights that no scheme of mass immigration and the “free movement of labour” (as I once heard the late Lord Russell blithely describe mass immigration into and within the EU) can be had that will not destabilise the social and political order of a country. On the scale the old EU-15 countries are beginning to experience it, this destabilisation will be severe and ongoing.
And all are not ‘charming’ central Europeans:
On top of all the legitimate Eastern Europeans from the enlarged EU, the open border mania has let in lots of less legitimate immigrants, from Russian mafia bosses to Kosovan and Albanian gangs, which have transformed parts of London and allowed the police to argue for ever bigger budgets. And the opening up of Europe has much further to go: in less than a year the government plans to give the right to live and work in the UK to the 30 million people of Bulgaria and Romania, followed within ten years by the people of Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia — and then 70 million Turks.
Except for the Turks (and perhaps the Albanians), these are peoples who are for all their cultural and religious differences from the average western European are nonetheless actually European and share something close to the same civilisation. But that does mean that assimilation or integration will happen at all or that it will happen, if it does, without a great deal of strife. Canadians and Americans have a great deal more in common than not, but if large numbers of either nation began shifting across the border it would obviously create enormous dislocations and problems. Mexicans and Americans have virtually nothing in common, and seemingly endless millions are shifting across the border here in a movement that already is and will continue to cause enormous turmoil and impose enormous costs on the native population in terms of taxation, services, quality of life, crime and, perhaps most importantly, way of life. The decisive factor is the sheer number of newcomers.