Pew Research Finds Europeans Increasingly Uncomfortable With Immigration

Charlie McKenna | July 12, 2016
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A study released by the Pew Research Center on Monday shows a startling development in European attitudes towards Middle Eastern refugees. In eight of the ten countries surveyed, majorities of citizens polled believe incoming refugees increase the likelihood of terrorism at home.

Respondents in Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Greece, and the United Kingdom all responded that they believe incoming refugees increase the risk of terrorism. Respondents in Hungary are most likely (at 76 percent) to believe incoming refugees increase the risk of terrorism, while respondents in Spain are the least likely to believe incoming refugees increase the likelihood of terrorism (at 40 percent).

Southern and eastern countries, those most affected by the refugee crises, tended to have the strongest negative reaction to Middle Eastern immigrants.

This seems like a no brainer. But for Europe, it’s a landmark. The most influential European politicians and the media have been constantly pushing a liberal immigration agenda on the already deeply liberal region since the start of the crisis. For instance, Angela Merkel, the German Prime Minister, said, regarding refugees, “There is no tolerance of those who are not ready to help, where, for legal and humanitarian reasons, help is due.”

Despite this pressure, however, it seems many Europeans have not bought into Merkel’s narrative of needing to “help” immigrants and refugees.

Pew's survey also found that Europeans are feeling increasingly uneasy about the economic implications of the European Union's radically liberal immigration policy. Majorities in Hungary, Poland, Italy, Greece, and France claim their top concern regarding refugees is that there will be fewer jobs available.

This means the primary concern for some of the countries wary of refugees is economic stability. To them, this is an economic issue, not a social issue. It is not about racism or Islamophobia, but economics. The potential economic ramifications of accepting refugees should also concern even the most radical proponents for immigration because mmigrants won’t benefit from a ruined economy.

American policy makers ought to heed this study. Europeans attuned to the dangers of liberal immigration policy are not some radical, fringe group. We should learn from European experience so that we can prevent similar problems for our own country.