In the rich Western democracies, there is a question that only right-wing people with little regard for cocktail party invitations are willing to ask. Fortunately, in this regard, your blogger is just such a person!
Under what circumstances should rich countries admit poor foreigners, and how many poor foreigners should rich countries admit under those circumstances?In Europe, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is doing the dirty work the chattering classes will not do:
“We are in deep trouble”, Orban intoned. “This is an uncontrolled and unregulated process. We did not get authorisation from [our citizens] for millions to walk into our continent.” He accused left-leaning parties of “importing future leftist voters to Europe” while trying to “hide it behind humanism.” “The German, Hungarian or Austrian way of life is not a basic right of all people on earth,” he continued. “It is only a right for those people who have contributed to it.”Critics will respond by attacking Orban, who is not the least unsavory dude in the world, on other grounds, but that does not make him wrong about Europe's migrant crisis, which is turning in to an existential moment for the European project. Compare his undeniably true statement with Angela Merkel's wishful thinking, in flagging defense of Germany's open borders policy: “For a rich European Union this is the right thing to do. We cannot simply leave these people to our neighbors.”
To which one might reply, how many millions of poor people should Europe let in as the Arab Muslim world once again makes Thomas Hobbes look like a romantic?
Europeans, whether nativist or nationalist or neither, are entitled to know from their leaders what the limits are. How many poor immigrants, whether or not refugees, can Europe admit without taking too much damage to its own culture, civic society, and economy? This is the question that European voters must demand their leaders to answer.
The same is true in the United States. What is the number of immigrants we should admit every year, whether by design or by default? Let us have that discussion in the open, and then build a policy to respond to it. Because without the number, all immigration policies, whether springing from right-wing nativism or transnational progressivism or something in between, are rooted in ideology instead of an objective, and are therefore doomed to fail.