Elsewhere, the rhetoric has been no more welcoming, and often the official policies are designed to push migrants away. Right-wing parties in Denmark are seeking to clamp down on the number of people coming in, while Hungary is pushing ahead with plans to build a 13-foot-high barbed-wire fence along its border with Serbia, despite criticism from its European Union partners.
The Czech government has defended the right of the police to detain illegal migrants. Last week, its president, Milos Zeman, responded to a revoltamong migrants held in a guarded facility by saying, “No one invited you here,” and, “If you don’t like it, leave.”
In Maria’s high-rise suburb of Almgården an astonishing one in three voted for Sweden Democrats, a party dubbed “racist and neo-Nazi” and led by Jimmie Åkesson, the new young darling of the European far right.
The reason is plain. Maria pointed across the dual carriageway to the neighbouring housing scheme of Rosengård, known locally as “the ghetto”.
It is home to almost 20,000 immigrants, overwhelmingly Muslim, almost half of them jobless.
“It’s become crazy around here. You can’t go out in the evening,” said Maria, who like other locals, did not want her surname revealed. “I’ve got nothing against foreigners. I’ve been married to a Bulgarian for 40 years. But these people don’t share our values. If you don’t like the colour of our flag, I say, I’ll help you pack your bags.”
Milton Friedman pointed out the problem decades ago:
Why is it that free immigration was a good thing before 1914 and free immigration is a bad thing today?
“Well, there is a sense in which that answer is right. There is a sense in which free immigration, in the same sense in which we had it before 1914, is not possible today.
“Why not? Because it is one thing to have free immigration to jobs. It is another thing to have free immigration to welfare.”
“So it’s one thing to come to America, it’s one thing to immigrate for jobs, it’s another for welfare.”
Obama and other supporters of the centralized state, including many Republicans, disagree but, as always, when something can’t continue, it won’t, as the Europeans are discovering.