Not Your Grandfather’s Immigrants

The mass migration from Islamic countries including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and others, continues apace. Around three-quarters of a million migrants have entered Europe in the current wave. They generally travel through some combination of Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary, but very few migrants come to rest in those countries. Almost all head for the richer nations of northern Europe. So far, Germany and Sweden have been the principal destinations of choice.

This has, of course, caused major disruptions in both countries. Germany may have reversed its policy of allowing the families of migrants to join them, while Sweden is now telling migrants they will have to find their own places to stay, or else be deported back to Germany or Denmark.

What makes Germany and Sweden so attractive, at least in part, is their welfare systems, which people in the Middle East correctly believe to be lavish. Norway, so far, has played only a minor role in the current migration, and wants to keep it that way. How to deter more immigrants than the nation can reasonably absorb? By letting them know welfare benefits are being cut: “Norway launches anti-refugee advertising campaign.”

Norway’s immigration authorities have launched an advertising campaign in print and social media to deter refugees from seeking asylum in the country, following the controversial campaigns launched in Denmark.

The Norwegian directorate of immigration sent a message out on Twitter on Friday, and again on Monday morning, warning Afghans planning to cross the country’s northern border with Russia that they risked forced repatriation — not simply to Moscow but all the way back to Kabul.

Joran Kallmyr, a state secretary in Norway’s foreign ministry, confirmed that the tweet was the start of a campaign which would be followed up on Facebook and by newspaper adverts in Russia and other countries. “Denmark has seen good results from doing this,” he told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK. …

“The aim is to get the number down. The refugees choose where they travel based on what they know about the country. Although Denmark is a safe country, relatively few have sought asylum there.”

Mr Kallmyr said the coming campaign would, among other things, inform potential asylum seekers of the Norwegian government’s proposals to cut the benefits they will receive if they win asylum in the country.

“It is better that they discover it in advance than that they are disappointed,” he argued.

Denmark’s foreign ministry in September published advertisements in four Lebanese newspapers warning Syrian refugees that the country had recently halved the levels of benefits offered to refugees. The campaign appears to have had some success. Of the 13,000 refugees who passed through Denmark in September, only 1,500 applied for asylum.

Norway plans to use social media to get word of its welfare cuts to migrants inexpensively:

Mr Kallmyr said that Norway doesn’t intend to spend too much money on the newspaper campaigns, relying instead on Facebook and Twitter.

“The main thing now is to use social media. It is cheap and reaches many people,” he said.

So Europe is confronted with the movement of millions of people from the Middle East, who use their cell phones to keep track of which countries offer them the most liberal welfare benefits. This is not exactly the heartwarming immigration story that we all grew up on, of poor but plucky refugees from the Old World who braved hazardous ocean passages in search of opportunity in the New World.