On 6 September 2021 former Attorney General and Senator Jeff Sessions gave a lecture in Budapest entitled ‘The Policy Makers Discussion: The Rule of Law and Mass Migration’ with Balázs Orbán Deputy Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office. The panel discussion organized by the Danube Institute gave a comprehensive analysis of the European and American dimensions of mass migration being one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century.
The speakers agreed that 2015 was a milestone in Europe—and in the US as well—regarding illegal migration, when European politicians realized that the world had changed and country leaders had been “unprepared” for what was happening. ‘Mass migration will make the European Union weaker, not stronger’, stated Balázs Orbán quite firmly.
Former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions highlighted the role of the nation states saying that they are and will remain important factors in global politics. A nation state has clear borders, which the state is capable to defend. Nation states also have a responsibility to enact laws and enforce them, continued Session. Without the ability to enforce laws made by a local parliament, a state would be seen weak in the eyes of its citizens and will not be respected by other states either. Session also praised Hungary’s consistent migration policy, which set an example for other countries as to how to handle migration as such.
In 2015, when Hungary witnessed multiple waves of mass migration towards Europe, the country put serious anti-immigration measures into effect, facing harsh criticism from most EU countries who in the spirit of the wilkommenskultur followed an open border policy instead. The measures the Hungarian government took had two sides. In the one hand, it contained legal regulations replacing outdated laws regarding the refugee issue, and on the other hand, it included a physical border lock: a fence, barbed wire, border patrols and permanent patrolling. This ‘dual border lock’ has impeded thousands of illegal migrants since then.
Hungary is sending a clear message: no one shall try to enter the EU through Hungary illegally, it will not be successful
The former Republican senator Jeff Sessions also outlined the importance of communication among the countries regarding this issue: If a country opens its borders to migrants, it will attract more and more people. That is why most immigrants, who arrive to the US could not be considered a refugee, because they had just started off in the hope of a better life and seek higher living standards. Because of the open border policy of the progressive US government, almost six times more immigrants arrived in the US in June 2021 than a year before, during the Trump administration. This phenomena has put great pressure on the country’s police officers and border patrols, as well.
Regarding the future of Europe Deputy Minister Balázs Orbán has a quiet pessimistic vision. He said that the world will definitely be a very uncertain place and we have no chance to stabilize those regions which emit most of the refugees and immigrants. In Europe, the gap between the East and the West will be wider regarding immigration policy as well, but hopefully we can still coexist and cooperate with each other. It requires tolerance and respect one another’s standpoints and we shall not try to convince or put pressure on each other because of different worldviews and policies.
Jeff Sessions agreed that national sovereignty will be challenged in the future, but it will be up to sovereign states to decide who they allow to enter their countries. The former attorney said that those who oppose and attack Hungary for exercising its sovereign rights are terrified that Hungary is right and they are wrong. That is why they try to intimidate and personally and mercilessly attack Hungary, calling it by names just to force it to be silent and submissive. The former senator’s advice was to be proud of what Hungary is doing, stand firmly against any stigmatization of others and win the arguments by facts and truths it has. The whole future of Europe and the world may be at stake and the world needs Hungary, he closed his speech.
Dávid Nagy, Danube Institute research fellow