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Transatlantic Blog

Why are Spain's socialists welcoming the Aquarius migrants?

Last week, the new Italian deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, denied 600 migrants aboard the ship Aquarius entrance into his country. However, the new president of Spain, the socialist leader Pedro Sánchez announced via his Twitter account that he gave “instructions for Spain to welcome the #Aquarius ship in the Port of Valencia. It is our obligation to provide these 600 people a safe harbor. We comply with international commitments regarding humanitarian emergencies.” They will also receive significant government benefits.

It’s not at all clear that there is any “commitment” or requirement; it’s not even clear it’s in the migrants’ best interest to encourage the often deadly voyage. These migrants came from the northern coast of Africa, off Libya, in a boat managed by SOS Mediteranée. That NGO, which is a project of Cospe, and others pick up migrants both off the Libyan coast and “inside Libyan territorial waters,” according to a European Commission report. Carrying such migrants all the way to Europe is not required by the Safety of Life at Sea (OLAS) Convention.

But during the campaign of 2016 legislative elections Sánchez, who was running as a presidential candidate, promised that should he take office “Spain would be a shelter country for refugees.” His statement came following a meeting with German Social Democrat Party figure Sigmar Gabriel in Berlin; the Social Democrats are Angela Merkel’s socialist-leaning opposition.

What is the Spanish Government so interested in?

Sánchez promised that each migrant will receive “social benefits” that include a kind of minimum basic income of €495 a month courtesy of the regional government of Valencia, which is also ruled by a left-wing coalition and which sided with Sánchez on his decision over the aforementioned migrants.

In fact, left-wing candidates in Spain campaigned on the issue. After “opening the doors” to African migrants, they propose giving them all generous, taxpayer-funded benefits. This guarantees a fresh new constituency for the Spanish welfare state, which the candidates hope to build.

Most of the migrants will likely be attracted by those measures tend to support socialist parties when they are able to vote. That would be especially appealing to Sánchez, who became president without winning anything close to a majority of votes in the last election. But it would be costly to Spain as a whole – as uncontrolled immigration would cost any nation with a welfare state.

“Welfare costs would skyrocket, and the strangled economy disintegrate and collapse” if the West became home to massive waves of migration while maintaining its welfare state policies, warned economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe. “While the
welfare state is still in place, immigration would have to be made subject to the condition that immigrants are excluded from domestic welfare entitlements.”

During the rule of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, the government moved to regularize the situation of illegal immigrants who were working in Spain – a strategy colloquially known as “papers for everybody.” Immigrants who had working illegally for at least one year in Spain could remain working – but had to sign up for Social Security, giving them access to social benefits.

Aside from expanding government, the Spanish Left promotes a putative policy of “multiculturalism,” but it is one that excludes the nation’s historic Catholic culture.

The Aquarius migrants will undoubtedly arrive with life experiences and cultural values outside of, and sometimes conflicting with, Western culture. Many Western European countries already struggle with integrating recent migrants, including France, Belgium the United Kingdom, and Spain itself. Multiculturalism has led some secularists to banish Crucifixes from the public square, in order to ban Islamic customs such as women wearing the burqa. Ironically, at the same time, in some European countries there are areas imposing an Islamist interpretation of Shari’a law. Christians lose out in both instances.

What about the persecuted Christians of the Middle East?

While the migrants attempting to reach Europe may be innocent Muslims fleeing Islamist violence – or Islamists hoping to exploit European migration laws; there’s no way to know – most of Europe continues to ignore one persecuted minority: Christians. Because of Islamic fundamentalism, Christian minorities are endangered and persecuted in countries of the Middle East like Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority – not to mention Libya. The terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) is responsible for systematic and widespread human rights violations, including targeting kidnappings and executions discriminating against an identifiable religious group.

According to a report released by the Polish conservative think-tank Ordo Iuris, “since June 2014, most Christians have fled areas already controlled by ISIS, thus becoming permanently displaced.” Survivors who remained behind fared little better. The report also highlighted that, “in the city of Raqqa in 2014, Christians were forced to sign a ‘dhimmi contract,’ violating their religious freedom.” Yet Pedro Sánchez has not publicly mentioned giving refuge to that religious minority.

If their language and culture might differ from Europeans, Middle Eastern Christians would at least assimilate insofar as they would worship in the same churches – and they have proved they will hold on to their Christian culture with an unbreakable grip. Given the mutual antagonism between Christianity and socialism – which the socialist Sánchez has at times helped advance – the influx of those faithful may be precisely what he fears the most.

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Ángel Manuel García Carmona is a student of computer engineering in Spain. You may follow him on Twitter at @GarciaCarmonaAM.