Jack Krak, American Renaissance, November 3, 2017
Come one, come all
My American passport means I am a member of the third-least-exclusive club in the world, after the Chinese and the Indians. Despite the lip service we pay to the high-minded ideals that are supposedly attached to American citizenship, it’s hard to imagine how the bar for obtaining it could be set lower.
My Polish friends can’t understand why we give citizenship to people just because their pregnant mothers won a game of hide-and-seek with the border patrol. Other mothers fly in just to have “American” children to keep their future relocation plans open or to ensure access to better schooling. We give legal residence to fifty thousand people a year, literally by “lottery” because we’re apparently not diverse enough—even though schools in places such as Wichita, Kansas, have to deal with a student population that speaks more than 100 languages at home.
If anyone somehow is refused permission to stay in the country legally, he can “live in the shadows” and wait for one of the amnesties that Washington passes every so often. If he’s lucky, the chief law enforcement officer of the US will waive the rules altogether, citing the importance of his “dreams.” Legions of immigration lawyers, church organizations, and ethnic activist groups advertise their willingness to help anyone through the back door if they are stopped at the main entrance.
It makes me wonder just how unlucky or incompetent someone has to be to not live in the United States for as long as he pleases. So long as he stays off the FBI’s Most Wanted list, it seems it’s just a matter of time before a Social Security card, US passport, and voter ID show up in the mail.
Ready to help
I was thinking about all this recently when I was sitting in a Polish government office waiting for my turn to be called into a small room to answer some questions. I was there for an interview that is part of the process of renewing the residency card that allows me to stay here legally. My Polish wife was already inside the room, being questioned by a representative of the regional government. When she came out, it would be my turn to answer the same questions.
I knew this because I had already gone through the process twice before in the previous five or six years. The point of interviewing us separately and asking the same questions is to help establish that we really are married and not just pretending, in order to get my legal residency. It’s part of the government’s way of weeding out fraudulent applications. Just as in other countries, marriage to a citizen is the fastest way for a foreigner to get legal status, and thus it attracts the most scrutiny.
When it was finally my turn to go inside, the agent greeted me and said “You understand me, right?” before getting straight down to business. No interpreter was offered at any point in the process and the only interpreters I ever see at that office are just friends that applicants bring themselves. If you don’t speak Polish, it’s your problem. Government business is conducted in Polish, and if you can’t manage then you need to arrange for help on your own. This is how it is even in the equivalent of the immigration office here.
I knew more or less what kinds of questions to expect but I was interested to see if the list had changed. It’s designed to determine if you really share a private life with you Polish spouse or if you have a sham marriage. Red flags go up if agents hear different answers to the same questions. Do I use an electric razor or a disposable? When you walk into the bathroom, is the sink on the left or the right? Where did we spend last New Year’s Eve? Who sleeps on which side of the bed? This time, there was even a trick question. I was asked what brand of cigarettes my wife prefers even though she doesn’t smoke.
In addition to the interview, I had to submit proof that I had no outstanding issues with the tax authorities. Three weeks earlier, two immigration agents dropped by my home in a surprise visit to verify that I actually lived at the address I provided.
Bear in mind that this was to confirm my eligibility for residency, not citizenship, and was all being done over again despite passing through the same process twice before in the last few years. If I ever try to become a citizen, I’ll have to pass a criminal background check and language test, and supply proof of a stable income and documents showing that I own a home or legally rent one.
The upside to being poorer than Germany
The main reason why the authorities are able to take such care with each case is the relatively small number of applications like mine and the low levels of immigration to Poland. There are more foreign people here than you might imagine, especially in the cities, but it’s nothing compared with the deluge that has overwhelmed Western Europe. Foreign residents in Poland constitute a small addition to the dominant main culture and have only peripheral relevance to national affairs. People like me don’t form a constituency that one political party can use to undermine another. To the extent the immigrant population is a political issue at all, the argument is about whether the government should keep it at a low level or a really low level.
For the millions trying to get honest work or welfare benefits in Europe, Poland is a place they might pass through on their way to Germany, Sweden, or elsewhere—not a final destination. This has been one of the Polish government’s arguments for defending itself against demands from the European Union to take in its “fair share” of recent refugees from the Middle East—they will just move on to places further West and North so what’s the point? This is not just speculation or wishful thinking. There is plenty of evidence that refugees are not just looking for safety from conflict or persecution in their own countries.
About a year ago, the Polish government gave in to pressure from Brussels and agreed to take in a small number of Syrians, but saved some face by stipulating that they be Christian families. Ruling out Muslims was supposed to make it easier to sell the agreement to the electorate. It didn’t take long for the inevitable to happen. Two families were relocated to the city of Tarnow and given apartments and monthly cash stipends equivalent to an average full-time job. One family decided to return to Damascus after inheriting an apartment there, and the other left in the middle of the night to join relatives in Germany.
Another Syrian family was placed in a small, quiet, and very safe small town in Western Poland but needed just a couple of weeks to decide that Germany was where they really wanted to be. They too left in the middle of the night without a word to anyone who had helped them settle into their new lives. The Polish priest who arranged what turned out to be the Syrians’ brief stay in a new, fully-furnished apartment is quoted as saying “We gave them everything. Internet, television, even bicycles. We thought they were happy here.”
Of the 160 Syrian Christians resettled in Poland, about eighty percent left almost immediately for Germany. The Polish edition of Newsweek discovered that several Syrians were angry that they were given asylum in Poland because they learned that it made them ineligible for welfare payments in Germany. They actually petitioned the Polish government to revoke their asylum so they could move west and re-apply. Newsweek also learned that the 20 or so percent who did not leave straightaway made the trip to Germany within the following three or four months. The NGO foundation that managed resettlement for the Polish government has refused to answer questions about how many Syrians, if any, stayed.
As a partner in a 2012 project organized by the European Union to move African refugees off Malta, Poland agreed to take in 50. Of the 40 who agreed to come to Poland, 38 moved on to Germany or Norway within a few weeks.
Poland is constantly accused of being “anti-immigrant” but it seems that the immigrants are “anti-Polish.”
Why don’t a million white people count?
Along with Hungary, Poland’s refusal to follow the EU’s orders on refugees has been constantly criticized as xenophobic. This deliberately ignores one of the largest human migrations in recent years. Since 2014, more than a million Ukrainians have moved to Poland, driven both by economic pressure and by the conflict with Russia. Proportionately, this would be like ten million more Mexicans moving to the US.
No means no
Poland has taken in roughly as many Ukrainians as Germany has taken refugees from the Middle East since Angela Merkel decided to invite everyone. This is another reason why Poland feels justified in denying the EU.
There is a special category of EU visa for Ukrainians. If they get a job offer, they can apply for a work visa tied to that job, and Ukrainians are now everywhere. I hear them talking almost every day in stores, on trams, and on the street. The office where I had the conversation about what kind of razor I use and which side of the bed I sleep on has become a de facto Ukrainian processing center.
Suddenly there are posters everywhere for Ukrainian bands and performers who come here on tour. Banks and cell phone companies, among others, print advertisements in their language. Walk onto a construction site, call an Uber driver, or hang out on campus and you are guaranteed to meet a Ukrainian.
Western media prefer to focus on the plight of poor Syrians even though the World Bank says Ukraine’s GDP per person is just $500 higher. But that’s not the only reason why you probably haven’t heard much about the massive exodus. There has been remarkably little conflict or social upheaval as a result. The reasons for this are obvious. Ukrainians are about as culturally compatible as anyone can be with Poles. Most of them speak Polish well enough to manage in society, and many are fluent. Many of the poorer ones are behind the fashion curve, but most don’t stand out in a crowd. The vast majority are here to work, and those who aren’t are mostly the children of well-off families here to study at university. Like the Syrians, any Ukrainian in search of a life subsidized by Western European welfare is only passing through on his way to Germany or Sweden.
There are signs that the sheer number of Ukrainians is beginning to push up against the limits of the Poles’ tolerance for imported cheap labor—ironic given Poles’ reputation elsewhere. In the last few months, “UA VON!” (“Ukraine OUT!”) graffiti has appeared all over the country. I’ve heard grumbling among friends about competition for jobs, even in higher-paid sectors like IT, where thousands of Ukrainians have found work. Comment threads in online news stories make lots of references to their presence here. The media have begun to cover things like the number of work permits they have received and the amount of money they’re sending out of the country.
Signs of trouble?
Many of these problems are mitigated by the fact that most Ukrainians want to do something that new arrivals to Germany and Sweden generally don’t: go home. They know that wages are lower in Poland than in Western Europe but they stay here because it’s a shorter, easier trip back to their families. Many can go home on weekends if they want. More than a million have come to Poland, but the number here at any one time is about three-quarters of that figure because they cycle in and out. There is no indication that they will stay for the long term, and they certainly won’t grow into an insular and alien community, like Muslims elsewhere in Europe.
Poland will still be Polish even after its biggest and most sudden demographic shift since the Second World War, thanks in part to its refusal to hand out legal status to everyone who walks in. Like millions of others here, I’m happy that Poland is willing to stand up to bullying from the EU and can see the effect of decades of Third-World immigration on places such as France, Germany and Great Britain. The unspoken but clear response to pressure to fall in line with orders from the EU is: “Look at what you’ve done to your cities—why would we want that?”
I’m happy to answer questions about where my bathroom sink is if it means I don’t have to live around the thousands of people that Brussels wants to use to “diversify” boring, un-diverse, white Poland.