Recently, the government of Hungary announced legislation to impose new rules on illegal migration facilitating non-governmental organizations and individuals. That legislative package is now undergoing the standard process of public debate.
In that debate about the legislation package, Hungarians are speaking their minds. They are not fooled by the PR machinations of non-governmental organizations masquerading as charities. Citizens know that crossing a border illegally is not a human right and the act of aiding and abetting illegal immigration is not humanitarian. The people expect government to protect the integrity of the state rather than pander to a liberal press and other interests, even if it means confronting an opposition as influential as George Soros and his political network.
People also know that those who deserve asylum can apply at the border and if they meet the requirements, they get it.
Shortly after the legislative package hit the news, I published a post on this blog collecting some of the more notorious international examples of NGOs helping undocumented masses avoid border control in the past years since the outbreak of the migration crisis.
Critics, including an influential, Soros-supported news outlet, dismissed it saying these were merely international examples and were not relevant to Hungary. Alright, more examples? Here are a few well known cases when NGOs, often funded by George Soros, helped illegal border violators in Hungary.
Remember the “tens of thousands” camping out at the Keleti Railway Station in 2015? “Budapest’s Keleti Station Has Become a De Facto Refugee Camp,” read the New York Times headline back then (the editors changed the title, but the URL preserves the original). ‘How could the government let this happen?’ many Hungarians asked at the time.
The answer is found in two cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): Said and company v. Hungary and Al-Tayyar Abdelhakim v. Hungary. In 2012 and 2013, when these trials took place, the migration crisis was not the focus of European discourse, but leaders privy to information and the experts on the topic had an idea of what was coming.
Said and Said claimed to be from Iraq and had crossed the borders illegally. Abdelhakim said he was from Palestine, but we couldn’t know for sure because he presented fake documents when caught crossing the border illegally. After that, Messrs. Said, Said and Abdelhakim were taken to a refugee camp to wait until their claims were ruled on, which was not easy because of the fake documents. An NGO representing these men took the case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that their rights had been violated because they were not allowed to leave the refugee camp until their case was decided. As a result, by 2015, the migrant crisis at its peak, Hungarian authorities could do nothing more than kindly ask illegal border violators – that is, people who had already crossed the border illegally and who were now inside Europe’s Schengen Area – to report to the refugee camps and voluntarily stay there. You can imagine how effective that was.
The images we all saw during those weeks of 2015, of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants marching across Hungary and further on to Austria and Germany, were the result of that decision.
In these cases, and the similar ones that followed, Hungary was supposed to pay compensation as well, but we couldn’t. Guess why. We could not find the plaintiffs because they had left.
Today, Hungary has found a solution to overcome these fundamentally unworkable decisions by setting up closed transit zones, which are only open towards the South and not open to the borderless Schengen area. Certain NGOs have denounced Hungary for that and are pushing international organizations to force Hungary to change the setting.
In 2015, at the peak of the crisis, a new protest movement emerged on the streets of Budapest. A well-organized network called Migration Aid was working to support the migrants gathered at the railway stations. In fact, the vast majority of these migrants were there illegally because they had crossed the border illegally. They were also there illegally because, even if the rule to require them to remain inside the camp could not be enforced due to the aforementioned court ruling, they should have complied with the instructions the border police gave them.
These groups helped the migrants organize demonstrations – near riots, in some cases – to be let through to the West, which the Hungarian authorities, according to the international laws, could not allow. On the one hand, Hungarian authorities could not limit their movement – because of the European court ruling – but we had to prevent them from leaving for another EU country because that would have been a violation of the law. These organizations applied enormous pressure on Hungary, through the media and opinion leaders, especially after Hungary tried to apply a rule – again to prevent their illegal travel – to prohibit the sale of train tickets to people without valid documentation.
What we find here is a determination to support mass migration, often operating under the banner of humanitarianism.
A few general conclusions: When George Soros goes to Brussels to keep the open society agenda on the table and is received by the president of the Commission, when his NGOs lobby to put the free movement privileges of illegals before the security rights of tax-paying citizens that shows a trend.
When the Hungarian government proposes legislation that would require transparency – obliging NGOs to state clearly who and for what agenda they work – citizens of Hungary may rightfully say they want more transparency.
This is an ongoing struggle, but one thing is sure: for the Orbán Government, Hungary comes first. The will of the people will always trump outside pressure or coercion. What’s at stake in this struggle between two very different competing visions is nothing less than the future of Hungary and of Europe.