Poles don’t want immigrants: so what?

Poland accepts few refugees and has been little affected by the crisis in Europe, yet its views on immigration are among the most pungent on the continent. Poles don’t want immigrants: so what?

“We don’t want terrorists here,” the Polish pensioner says, when asked about EU plans to resettle refugees more broadly across the continent. “Have you seen what they’re doing in the west?”

It’s a popular view here, if a baffling one. Poland is little affected by the refugee crisis in Europe, and accepts vanishingly small numbers of migrants. And yet the country has some of the most pungent views on immigration on the continent. A recent survey for the television station TVN found that two-thirds of Poles share the same hostility towards immigrants expressed by the Warsaw grandmother cited above.

According to a study in 2013 by the Centre for Research on Prejudice – a professional academic centre at the University of Warsaw – as many as 69% of Poles do not want non-white people living in their country.

A vast majority believe that immigrants take work away from Poles and that their presence is detrimental for the economy. It’s a view shared more broadly in eastern Europe, despite insignificant migrant flows in all of Poland’s eastern neighbours.

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