Euro Crisis

Mass Deportations of Immigrants From Greece Betrays Misplaced Blame and Frustration

|

Greece is set to deport 1,600 immigrants arrested in Athens. The move comes days after a sweeping crackdown on illegal immigrants that has seen over 6,000 people detained. Speaking to Greek media Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said of immigration:

The immigration problem is perhaps even greater than the financial one.

Dendias has also made clear what institutional value he thinks immigrants contribute, saying that they are a "bomb at the foundations of society and the state".

The anti-immigrant rhetoric should not be surprising to anyone. In times of economic hardship xenophobic parties tend to enjoy something of a resurgence. With unemployment on the rise and your pension disappearing it is easy to view those pesky Pakistanis and Afghans as something of a hindrance to your own economic wellbeing.

Such attitudes help account for the impressive electoral gains enjoyed by the Greek far-right party Golden Dawn in the most recent election. When not pulling off stunts like Greek only food handouts Golden Dawn spends its time proposing legislation that would see the Turkish border covered in landmines.

While xenophobic rhetoric might be getting more audible its factual foundations remains weak. 

One of the few parts of the European Union that I like (in principle) is its open border policy. However, largely in part because of the way many European countries organize their welfare systems the policy has been a social disaster, with what are effectively ghettos springing up all over Europe. This naturally leads to a level of social tension that would not otherwise exist to nearly the same extent without governments subsidizing immigration. Many of the immigrants that are the target of xenophobic scorn would be unable to arrive in Europe without government assistance.

Anger should not be leveled at the immigrants themselves but rather the European governments that distort the labor markets. The obvious irony is that the European Union was founded in part to reduce ethnic and nationalist sentiment on the continent.

The fact is that immigrants are great for economies and it is moronic for a country like Greece that is in serious economic hardship to be expelling a ready and willing labor force.

The economic crisis in Europe has made many Europeans angry at all the wrong people. Bankers, the rich, and immigrants have all been accused, in their own ways, of contributing to European economic collapse. Unelected politicians and bureaucrats seem to have escaped almost any criticism. 

NEXT: Conservatives vs. Liberals vs. Libertarians at the Supreme Court

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. You know who else responded to a bad economy by rounding up outsiders…

    1. John Galt?

      1. Yep, John Galt would have no problem kicking people off his property if he did not want them.

        1. Are you suggesting that governments have private property rights over the whole of a nation state? Some sort of private-public property rights?

          1. Are you saying that the government does not own property?

            1. Private property is the property of private individuals.

              If you disagree then we can’t have a capitalist society.

              The state should refrain from interfering with the market.

            2. Not private property. Certainly not in the same way John Galt or any other individual owns his or her own property.

              Also, what hk said.

    2. You know who else responded to a bad economy by rounding up outsiders…

      My wife?

    3. The Bloshviks after the “Russian” Revolution after 1917? The Great Purge of Stalin in the 1930’s?

  2. Considering that the massive welfare state is there to stay, it’s not moronic for Greece to be doing this at all. Unconscionable but not moronic.

    They should be deporting the welfare state instead, but we know that’s not going to happen. You can’t have open borders and a welfare state.

    1. You can’t have open borders and a welfare state.

      You can if immigrants are not eligible for welfare.

      1. Yeah, good luck with that

        1. I mean, really, illegal immigrants are like the Keysnenian magic multiplier- somehow they come to this country and contribute cheap labor, but never cost the state anything.

          But in reality, they don’t always work and suck at the state teat just as much as anyone else

          1. I’m sure someone could actually do research on this, but that would be racist.

          2. Welfare recipients themselves already cost the state a lot, and in turn cost other people. Immigrants providing cheaper labor allow businesses to stay open longer while providing cheaper goods and services. You take that away, substituting native Greeks who demand twice the pay for menial jobs, and now you have even MORE people on welfare compounded with more costly goods and services.

            Money is fleeing out of Greece. This is only going to hasten that process.

  3. One of the few parts of the European Union that I like (in principle) is its open border policy. However, largely in part because of the way many European countries organize their welfare systems the policy has been a social disaster,

    Yeah, I like that idea also, except in practice.

    1. Private property owners determine who they want on their property, not the state.

      If the state is dumb enough to hand out welfare that is their problem.

      1. Private property /=/ the entire nation.

        1. Some time ago we agreed to use the: != symbology for not eq.

          1. What’s wrong with using ? for does not equal?

  4. Get hit by an uninsured, unlicensed illegal immigrant that disappears and you complain? Then you’re a xenophobe.
    See your wages decrease over time due to illegal immigrant cheap labor and don’t like it? You’re a xenophobe.
    See your taxes go up to pay for the education of illegal immigrants and are unhappy? Then you’re a xenophobe.
    Watch your local hospital go bankrupt because of illegal immigrants getting services and not paying and don’t like it? You’re a xenophobe.
    Apparently, unless you are are completely happy with open borders and love the invasion of millions of low-skilled, mostly illiterate illegal aliens, then you’re a xenophobe.

    Mr.Feeney is an ass-clown. Immigration status has nothing to do with race or nationality.

  5. Get hit by an uninsured, unlicensed illegal immigrant that disappears and you complain?

    Then you’re no different from someone who complains about an uninsured, unlicensed American citizen that tries to disappear?

    See your wages decrease over time due to illegal immigrant cheap labor and don’t like it?

    Then you work as cheap farm labor or as a McDonalds monkey? And you don’t OWN those jobs, you don’t have a RIGHT to them. The only person who has the right to decide who gets the job is the guy giving them out.

    See your taxes go up to pay for the education of illegal immigrants and are unhappy?

    And yet you’re perfectly happy for your taxes to go up for education of other people’s kids?

    Watch your local hospital go bankrupt because of illegal immigrants getting services and not paying and don’t like it?

    Which has happened where? Besides which, maybe you should be mad at the government for forcing hospitals to treat people without compensation?

    Mr.Feeney is an ass-clown. Immigration status has nothing to do with race or nationality.

    Uh, it is ENTIRELY about nationality. That’s why they’re called “illegal immigrants” rather than “citizens”.

    And none of the things you mention in your comment have ANYTHING to do with Feeney’s post, aside from the topic of immigrants. I especially like the implicit claim that he’s accusing you of being a xenophobe.

  6. I understand Mr. Feeney’s sentiment; however, I don’t think he understands the scope of the problem. There are over a million illegal immigrants in Greece?one-tenth of the total population.

    Imagine if the illegal immigrant population of the US tripled. Even though our economy is splendid relative to Greece’s, it would be a problem?no?

    Greece can’t provide services or jobs for its own citizens and legal immigrants right now, let alone feed, clothe, shelter and provide health care for illegal immigrants. And since other EU member states won’t allow the illegal immigrants to move into their countries and won’t help Greece care for them, what is left for the Greeks to do?

    Let’s set aside the skyrocketing crime rate and ghettoization of not just Athens and Thessaloniki but smaller cities and even the islands. Let’s set aside that there are no jobs to be had for even Greeks and legal immigrants. Let’s forget about the Greek people and their welfare for a moment. How is it worse for the illegal immigrants to be sent home than to live in squalor because Greece has no means to provide for them? It isn’t.

    1. Well, ya know, swatting flies really doesn’t solve the problem of the trash dump.
      If Greece were to cut entitlements, I’d bet the IAs would leave on their own, and Greece might actually have what’s known as an “economy” again.
      Until then, no sympathy.

    2. Greece can’t provide services or jobs for its own citizens and legal immigrants right now, let alone feed, clothe, shelter and provide health care for illegal immigrants.
      .. but why would they need to?

      In fact the biggest issue is the view that Greece–the state–is supposed to be “the provider” of things.

      To be fair, this is not unique to Greece at all, but it’s a good case study of what’s wrong. You reform this and everything else starts to work out.

      People will always want to trade. Economic activity doesn’t come from government. People should be allowed to work for and hire whomever they want, immigrants or not.

    3. Feeney is a hack reporter.

  7. The fact is that immigrants are great for economies and it is moronic for a country like Greece that is in serious economic hardship to be expelling a ready and willing labor force.

    If immigration is so great for economies, why is it that all the countries with massive numbers of immigrants are the ones having economic hardships?

    If immigration were as great for national economies as you people keep telling us it is, Greece would be a picture of economic health.

    1. If immigration is so great for economies, why is it that all the countries with massive numbers of immigrants are the ones having economic hardships?

      Wait… What?

      The 53 countries on that list with a greater proportion of immigrants than Greece are not all having economic hardships. Far, far from it.

      If immigration were as great for national economies as you people keep telling us it is, Greece would be a picture of economic health.

      When economies go as bad as Greece’s has, everything looks like a problem, since nothing works to fix it. Why pick on immigration?

  8. “The obvious irony is that the European Union was founded in part to reduce ethnic and nationalist sentiment on the continent.”

    Only among white Europeans.

  9. I don’t get it. If foreigners are kicked out of Greece, who will do all the work? Surely they don’t expect Greeks to work?

    1. Greece has 25% unemployment. Why wouldn’t the native Greeks want to work on farms? They still would get payed for it , wouldn’t they?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.