Let's take advantage of a chance to do something good
I would like to play devil's advocate a little bit.
First, I think that the European response to Syrian refugees was still enthusiastic at this stage of the crisis. I believe it took some more time for the attitudes to go where they are today.
Second, I'm not really sure that Europe is very enthusiastic about resettling Ukrainian refugees right now. Temporarily hosting women, children, and elderly people, while the rest of the country is fighting? Sure. But permanently resettling families (including non-elderly men) as was the case with Syrian refugees? Not so sure. In addition, the fact that many men from the Ukrainian diaspora return home to fight also creates a different dynamic and supports the argument that "These are real refugees and not immigrants posing as refugees.".
Third, I believe that the refugee crisis that Lukashenko created on the Polish-Belarusian border deserved a mention in an article like this explaining Polish attitudes towards migrants.
Finally, I find the racism angle completely wrong, because it tries to Americanize a very different set of attitudes. I think the problem with Europe is nationalism instead. The "Polish plumber" stereotype in Western Europe existed despite the fact that Poland is a country whose population is predominantly classified as "white" by Americans. It probably did contribute to Brexit after all. Moreover, to use Godwin's law, racist Nazi policies didn't spare white Poles and other Slavs. I think that here we just have a set of attitudes that can't fit within American racial categories and attitudes towards whiteness.
What is indeed true is that Americans on average are MUCH MUCH more open to any person who comes from elsewhere than Europeans, and as a European who lives in the US I'm very grateful for this! I feel more welcome here than my friends from back home who live in other European countries.
Writing from Poland, there's two things I'd want to note. One is that while Ukrainians are seen as 'fully European/just like us' now, that was definitely not the case before the start of the war. Russians, Belarusians, Georgians and Ukrainians were definitely seen as different from 'proper' Europeans (we include ourselves there now), and you'd occasionally hear derogatory comments about those groups of similar kind you'd hear about Mexicans in the US. The geopolitical context of facing the same threat – and Ukrainians making it very clear that they wouldn't side with Russia – has changed the Polish/Ukrainian dynamic to one of much greater solidarity.
Secondly, the Polish attitude towards migrants has always been a bit weird – and yes, tinged with racism. No country issued more residence permits to non-EU migrants than Poland, and while these were almost all from Eastern Christian nations, many of these people are Muslims from the Russosphere. Nevertheless, the government fought tooth and nail against accepting a single Syrian refugee. Poland also has a strong historical memory of being a country of emigration, so people struggle a bit psychologically that it's now a destination. No specific point, but it has been a bit more complicated than the white/colour binary that American racial politics always imposes.
Can the race essentialist left not make any crisis and especially a humanitarian one about themselves?
They are so myopic and clueless about the world outside a neat little morality play they have written for this country.
Another war-related immigration idea: accept lots of anti-war skilled Russian immigrants.
Let's run the counterfactual to the "everyone cares about Ukraine because Ukrainians are white Christians" BS and swap the populations of Afghanistan and Ukraine. Does anyone really think that Europe would look at an invasion at its Eastern border and say "Wait, hold on, it's just a bunch of a Muslims, we don't have to do anything." The reason that everyone is freaking out over Ukraine is because a nuclear-armed (former) superpower run by an authoritarian quasi-dictator invaded an Eastern European country, full stop.
Oh, but there are ongoing conflicts in Africa that didn't get this much attention! There has been a hot war in Eastern Ukraine since 2014 between Russian-backed separatists and regular old Ukrainians who want no part of it. Many people have been killed. Schools have been attacked. And yet it was not on the front page until Russia actually invaded. Oh, but what about Syrian refugees! Germany took in what, over a million? And that was an internal conflict, not an invasion, regardless of what countries backed which sides of the civil war. Oh, but... no, shut up, there is no parallel to this situation! Even the historical analogies are a stretch because nothing like this has happened in the nuclear or information ages.
This is not a situation where peer nations are threatening each other. It is not a civil war. It is not sectarian violence. It is not the US "promoting democracy" with bombs. Russia, a giant country with piles of nuclear weapons and a massive army, is trying to capture and occupy a peaceful country without provocation for the purpose of expanding its borders. Anyone who tires to flatten that down to crude binaries and make some stupid point about white supremacy is an amoral zealot who should not be taken seriously.
This post makes a couple of valid points but is rather infuriating overall by muddying the waters and conflating the moral debate on refugees with an economic debate on immigration. We open our doors to refugees because their life is at imminent risk, regardless of economic benefit to us. Thus we welcome the elderly, for instance, the unskilled etc indiscriminately from the rest. By the same token, howeve, such acceptance of refugees should be *temporary*. We can and should hope for a relatively swift resolution in Ukraine, ending in Russian defeat - and western governments should work harder to assure this outcome. Soon after this is achieved refugees should be first encouraged, then possibly required to return home - and most would be happy to do so.
Finally, sympathy for Ukraine may have many reasons , but the no. 1 reason is that it’s a democracy fighting against an unprovoked assault of an authoritarian regime seeking to eliminate its freedom and enslave it, and clearly not planning to stop there. In response, moreover, the people of Ukraine are bravely sacrificing all to defend themselves and indirectly the entire free world. *That’s* the no. 1 reason for the great solidarity, and it’s maddening that it’s not explicitly mentioned in this post.
Keep in mind that there are two phrases of a refugee crisis. The temporary shelter stage and then if the conflict is prolonged the permanent resettlement phrase. The vast majority of refugees in conflicts want to return to their old homes, but want to wait out the conflict in a safe place. It's only when a conflict becomes prolonged/countries becomes to destroyed that they shift to wanting permanent resettlement.
Right Ukrainian hope/believe that the war will be over in a few months or at least within a year, so they can return to Ukraine. That's a significant factor why most of them are staying in neighboring countries. It's when a conflict seems likes it will be never ending, that refugees shift away from finding temporary shelter to shifting to try to find a country for permanent resettlement.
I believe it's more likely than not that some kind of settlement in the war will be reached within six months, although a prolonged war is still possible. So right now the focus should be on ensuring that neighboring countries have enough resources to host Ukrainians not trying to permanently resettle Ukrainians in other countries, since that's not really want Ukrainians want right now. (Of course its good for other countries to also host Ukrainians and its good to help those that want to immigrate permanently to do so).
A sidenote, in the early months of a conflict, there's usually a greater willingness to host refugees, it's when a conflict becomes prolonged that sympathy dries up. Remember there was a six month period when Germany was very welcoming to Syrian refugees but that welcome dried up . Right now Europe is welcoming to Ukrainian refugees, but we shouldn't expect that welcomeness to stay at this high level when public eventually gets fatigued.
This is only tangentially related to the issue here, but I wonder how much of American immigration politics is based on false assumptions about how the legal immigration system actually works. Like, I strongly suspect that a lot of people have it in their heads that an honest, hardworking person from anywhere who speaks or is willing to learn English and is willing to adapt to American customs can find a way in if they're just patient, when in fact this is not the case.* Hence the apparently greater salience of "border security" vs. TPS for people who are already here--if you think anyone who "deserves" to come here already can, everyone trying to circumvent that system is "undeserving" and therefore rightly excluded.
* An exercise to illustrate this problem: Imagine Carlos. Carlos is a journeyman baker at a panadería in Juárez. He speaks halfway-decent English and has some distant relations across the border in El Paso (his grandfather's brother moved there in less-restrictive times). He genuinely appreciates certain aspects of American culture (big football fan) and occasionally sees his American relations at holidays.
One Christmas, he's talking to his second cousin Sam, a bit of a whiz-kid who got a scholarship to the Wharton School of Business. Sam was complaining about how the Mexican food in Philly kinda sucks (it does), and also commenting about how good the pan dulce Carlos brought was. Carlos mentioned that he'd baked it himself.
At this, Sam had a business idea: bring Carlos over to bake pan dulce in Philadelphia. There's an opening in the market because one of the two decent panaderías in town had closed (COVID casualty). Plus Carlos's pan dulce, while merely very good by Juárez standards, would absolutely blow anything else available in Philly out of the water. For Carlos's part, he'd be interested because at this relatively early stage of his career, he's not really making great money and he's nowhere near running his own kitchen.
Prompt: Identify which visa, if any, Carlos is eligible for. (Please do not assume he will meet/marry an American citizen for the purposes of this exercise. Note also his American relations are strictly those descended from his grandfather's brother, and Carlos has no formal education past high school.)
Racism exists and its a problem. The handful of cases on the Polish border where people were racist is wrong and awful, and those people should be held to account, but a couple observations:
First, it is natural for humans to empathize more with people who are like them. To use a banal example we feel it and care more when someone in our family has cancer than when a random stranger has cancer. In real terms: both cases of suffering are (all else being equal) the same, but the family member gets more empathy. The same is true for broader tribes.
Of course Europeans are more empathetic to Ukrainians than they are for Syrians. First Ukrainians look and speak a lot more like most Europeans, so they feel the pain more. Second, Ukraine is a country being invaded by an historic imperialistic power which, in living memory, brutally dominated much of Eastern Europe. This means that this is familiar to many in Europe (they have literally felt Ukraine's pain), AND there is an additional incentive to be welcoming to Ukrainians: other parts of Europe might be next.
Americans, I think, due to our historical and cultural ties to Europe feel many of the same impulses. A war in Europe, where millions of Americans came from AND where historically America has spent hundreds of thousands of soldiers off to die, means more than, say Afghanistan, a country with few ties with the US.
So is it racist for the Ukraine war to matter more to Americans? I do not think so: I think the stakes (for understandable and obvious reasons when you think about it for more than 10 seconds) are higher in Ukraine than they were in Syria, than they are in Ethiopia, or in Chad, or (pick another country currently in conflict). This is before we get into the geopolitical implications of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.
Let's take Syria. Syria is a mess, which has upended millions of lives. The humanitarian concerns in Syria are almost as bad as Ukraine (Syria is, IIRC, about half the size of Ukraine but was hurt worse). But what are the geopolitical implications if Syria is in shambles? To the US? Not much. Syria is not nuclear armed, turmoil in Syria is not going to cause one of its neighbors to become more hostile to the US. Overall, to the average American, the Syrian conflict won't matter much.
Ukraine, bluntly, is different. America is in a military alliance with nearly all of Ukraine's neighbors, who are now tensely fearful of Russian invasion. Russia is an historic adversary to the US, is making demands of America in exchange for peace, and has more nukes than any country on earth. The Ukrainian conflict has serious security implications to the US.
Second, like all foreign policy issues, Americans LOVE to make FP revolve around our own domestic squabbles. Hence the debate on NATO. This may come to shock most Americans but NATO really is not the driving force behind this conflict: this war is about Ukraine and Russia, and basically that's it. Our focus on NATO is detrimental to understanding the conflict in my view. If we want to learn more about this conflict, we should learn more about Russia and Ukraine, not about our won foibles in Europe since 1991.
I don't think this article needed the "anti-racists are at it again" section at the top. It's really a boilerplate "immigration is good, especially in a tight labour market" piece. Especially when it's so weakly made: the man quoted at the top is a producer at a Pakistani gaming channel?!
I think it is a legitimate policy issue that TPS in practice serves as a permanent suspension of visa rules. Moreover I believe this misapplied policy contributes to the political view that the immigration system is “broken” which drives a lot of otherwise sympathetic voters to more nativist politicians.
As the party of expanded government, my view is that Democrats should care when policy is bad and working poorly.
I cannot understand why Biden does not do the same with Venezuela. It has all the same characteristics? white, Christian, well educated on average, and symbolically important as showing hostility to "Socialism." Economic and political benefits.
“In an inflationary, full employment economy you can’t generate prosperity *for anyone* by pushing up nominal wages in labor-intensive sectors of the economy.” (emphasis added).
This is absolutely false. Higher wages for shitty, low paid jobs generate prosperity for workers with (previously) shitty, low paid jobs. These workers benefit from higher wages much more than doctors, lawyers, rentiers, or IT workers who need the money less.
The inflationary effect of unskilled workers getting raises is minimal. The bottom 40% of American earners bring in a whopping 11% of national income. Increasing this figure by 50% would increase low end wages by 50% but would only increase production costs by 5.5%. In other words, it would increase the purchasing power of low paid workers by 44%.
Please don’t use middle class inflation grievances to kick low paid workers to the curb.
I hope this also will be extended to Russian political refugees. I know Russians opposed to Putin who have fled to the US and are now stranded here with no clear immigration path. If we opened the doors to Russian dissidents and high skilled Russians, the brain drain would accelerate their decline. It is scary to be opposed to Putin in Russia and we should be welcoming Westernized and anti-Putin Russians with open arms.
"The current situation is more or less exactly what Poland’s foreign policy has long wanted" - as a Polish-born U.S. citizen, I have to say, that's cold. Really cold. I mean, I get what MattY is saying, but pregnant women being killed by Russian bombs is not what anyone in Poland has "long wanted."
Also, I'm sure that racism plays a role in Poland's differential response to Ukrainian vs. Middle Eastern refugees. But I want to signal-boost a point made by many other commenters: there's a huge difference between "we're accepting a bunch of women, children, and elderly while the men are back in their homeland, bravely fighting off an invasion" and "we're accepting a bunch of people, including a lot of young men."
Stereotype alert: Young men, especially unemployed and unmarried ones, are the major demographic that gives rise to crime and social unrest in any society. See Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature" for details. You can bet that if the Ukrainian refugees included many men along with women and children, the host countries' response would be very different.
Reading and listening to some British press in the last few weeks, they noted some amnesia snot Syrian refugees -- Merkel and other EU leaders initially supported admitting huge number of Syrians before the political issues of admitting low skilled immigrants to high welfare countries with tight labor regulations became impossible to ignore. Part of the reasonable bits of One Billion Americans is that we do a mildly better job of limiting the roadblocks to hiring a new immigrant in many ways by providing fewer workers guarantees ( easier to fire makes it easier to hire).
On the other hand, just listened to a podcast with a recent British immigrant and *wow* we make the paperwork to transfer money and setup bank accounts take a couple months for no good reason, which forces them into a weird cash economy limbo for way longer than I would have expected, largely due to forcing immigrants to wait until in country to a social security number...