Polish border guards patrolling the border with Belarus. Source: https://twitter.com/Straz_Graniczna
Poles do not want to be forced to take in migrants from outside Europe. They strongly oppose this, whether they sympathize with the right-wing Confederation group that brings together nationalists and conservative libertarians, the ruling social-conservative Law and Justice party, the centrist Third Way party, Donald Tusk’s liberal Civic Coalition, or The Left.
After 1945, we Poles became accustomed to living in a nationally homogeneous country that was not attractive to migrants. This has changed greatly in the last decade, when immigrants began arriving, first from Ukraine and then from more exotic locales, including Muslim countries.
Until now, there had been no public opinion polls on this issue. This has changed thanks to a survey commissioned from the Ariadne National Research Panel by the Independent Research Team Foundation (Fundacja Niezależny Zespół Badawczy) and the Nowy Ład website. The results of this survey are clear: Poles are averse to immigration, and especially strongly reject non-European immigration.
The question “Do you support immigration from Pakistan and Bangladesh?” was answered in the affirmative by only 11 percent of respondents, while 89 percent answered in the negative. 10 percent of Polish respondents are positively disposed to the arrival of people from “other Muslim countries,” and 90 percent are against. The opinion of Poles in this area is clear regardless of sex, age, education, and size of the locality where they reside: there is little difference among the respondents, with at least 85 percent against Muslim immigration to Poland in each category.
Such immigration is rejected by voters of all the parties currently represented in parliament: 99 percent of Law and Justice voters, 96 percent of Confederation voters, 92 percent of Third Way voters, 77 percent of Civic Coalition voters, and 68 percent of those who vote for The Left.
Poles are only slightly less skeptical about migration from other places. 88 percent are against accepting migrants from Africa and the Middle East, 86 percent from India, 84 percent from the Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan), and 82 percent from South America. Even Christians from Asia are not wanted in Poland, with as many as 79 percent of Poles surveyed being against welcoming them.
The only source of immigration with more support is Ukraine: 60 percent of Poles are against taking in Ukrainians, while 40 percent are in favor. More men (46 percent) than women (34 percent) support immigration from Ukraine. Support for this source of immigration increases with the age of the respondents: 45 percent support immigration from Ukraine in the 55+ age group, but only 34 percent among 18-24-year-olds.
The Confederation’s electorate is most reluctant to accept Ukrainian immigration, with 76 percent against. Negative responses also prevail among voters for Law and Justice (58 percent) and Third Way (55 percent). Those who favor such immigration are supporters of the Civic Platform (52 percent support) and The Left (64 percent).
Only eight percent agreed with the sentence, “In Poland, it should be possible to build mosques financed entirely or partially from abroad.” 92 percent are against (including at least 86 percent of the supporters of each political party). 69 percent of those surveyed are against the hypothetical introduction of easier citizenship for foreigners. The assertion that “in Poland, it should be possible to build mosques financed entirely or partially from abroad” is supported by only 4 percent.
Most Poles consider the current law to be too liberal (although few are likely aware of its wording). In fact, only 29 percent of respondents agree with this sentence that conveys the content of the Polish law: “Foreigners should be able to obtain citizenship after three years of residence in Poland on the basis of a permanent residence permit, if they have a stable and regular source of income and a legal title to occupy a dwelling.” 71 percent are against. This sentence is rejected even by a majority (58 percent) of those who said they vote for The Left (rebranded “The New Left” for the October 15 elections).
Thus, Poles’ stance on social protection for migrants is unequivocal. The proposal that “immigrants should have the same access to public benefits as Poles (e.g. child allowances or subsidized loans for the acquisition of a first home)” is rejected by as many as 89 percent of respondents. In every group in terms of sex, age, education, and residence, at least 85 percent disagreed with such a statement. Granting the same benefits to immigrants that Poles receive is rejected by 98 percent of Confederation voters, 96 percent of Law and Justice voters, 88 percent of Third Way voters, 82 percent of Civic Platform voters, and 71 percent of The Left supporters.
The threat of what is happening in the West
This is, of course, just one opinion poll, but it suggests a powerful rift between citizens and a segment of the political, media, and business elites. Poland’s migration policy should therefore be subject to a very serious and indisputable poll: a referendum on legal labor immigration, citizenship acquisition, and the social rights of immigrants.
After all, as living standards rise, Poland is going to be increasingly threatened by what has happened to Western European countries. There has never been a referendum on migration policy in France, the United Kingdom, or Germany. Only now does such an idea have a chance to make headway in France, where as many as 64 percent of those surveyed are in favor of halting non-European immigration (probably around 70-80 percent of French people of European descent).
The decisions to bring in tens of millions of settlers were never democratically approved by the societies of these countries. Politicians made them in an opaque manner while under pressure from lobbies in search of cheap labor and under the anti-national left’s moral blackmail.
During the election campaigns, many promised change. Jacques Chirac even spoke of the “noise and smell” of Muslim immigrants that “drive French workers crazy.” Merkel jointly declared with Sarkozy and Cameron that “multiculturalism doesn’t work.” In practice, all these politicians did was to bring in hundreds of thousands more foreigners. This has led not only to an increase in crime, but also to the creation of parallel societies and the loss of control over areas of the nations’ territories.
Unfortunately, even on the right in Poland there is no shortage of supporters of simply repeating the Western migration policies. Many believe that the only problems are with illegal immigration, or that the issue is mostly about “welfare.” The basic problem, however, is legal immigration conducted on a scale that precludes integration – not to mention assimilation – from regions of the world that are culturally alien to us.
The most notorious terrorist attacks in France (Charlie Hebdo, the Bataclan…) were carried out by French citizens who had been born in Europe and who were descendants of legal immigrants. Social separatism is a fact confirmed by research. 80-90 percent of Muslims associate solely with other Muslims. They have more children than do French people of European descent, and those declaring a strong commitment to Islam have the most offspring.
In 1950, less than one percent of newborn children in France had Muslim names. That figure had climbed to eight percent by 1997, and it is at 22 percent today. Secularization is being challenged. Younger generations of Muslims living in France are more religious than the older generations (e.g., they fast more often during Ramadan and are more likely to wear the hijab).
Many illegal immigrants originally came legally, such as those who first obtained student visas but then never showed up at the university. It is an illusion to believe that it would be easy to deport only the “bad” ones and those who don’t work. It is simpler to let people in than to find them and expel them. In France in 2022, the percentage of immigrants who had received official deportation orders and who were then successfully removed was only 6.9 percent.
Another problem is that immigrants vote massively for the left, making it harder for right-wing or nationalist parties to come to power in the West and stop immigration.
Skepticism about immigration does not stem from a sense of superiority toward other cultures. On the contrary, it derives from the awareness that no human being is a tabula rasa, that people grow up in a particular culture, and that the prospect of “becoming Polish” is not so attractive that people from another civilization will abandon their own roots by the millions for it.
This is all the more true in today’s world, where immigrants can easily maintain remote links with their countries of origin. The argument which refers to the fact that the Muslim Tatars who came to Poland centuries ago and who are now well-assimilated after having been here so for long is grotesque: they make up only 0.0047 percent of the country’s population!
Assimilation, by which Germans, Armenians, or Jews adopted Polishness in the past, should be distinguished from multicultural integration. Under the latter, immigrants and natives are to be socially engineered in tandem, with the end product being people capable of peaceful coexistence because they have been stripped of their original religious and national identities.
You can assimilate individuals and families of any origin, but not millions who have been shuttled from one end of the world to the other.
Will the economy really suffer from a lack of immigrants?
The public discourse on this issue also presents the argument that taking in migrants is a necessity in the face of demographics in order to save the economy.
The survey cited earlier asked: “What direction in demographic development should be taken by Poland?” Three answers were given to choose from. “Satisfying labor market shortages through immigration” was selected by 13.5 percent of respondents. In turn, 38.8 percent of respondents pointed to “allocating large resources to encourage Poles to have children and support Polish families with many children.” The largest number – 47.7 percent – chose “Investment in innovation and labor automation” as the solution.
Is there really no alternative to immigration in this context? Why not wait and see if, after a few years of no immigration, Poles begin to beg for Bengalis to come en masse?
Those willing to settle in Poland today already outnumber Poles many times over, and business and the left will keep pushing for immigration. Immigration is thus going to be a key issue in the coming years in Poland, too. But no “experts” or international conventions are more important than the will of the vast majority of the population.
Either we take democracy seriously or we don’t. Poles deserve to have their own country.
This article was first published in Polish in the Do Rzeczy weekly in September 2023.