“It’s common sense,” says Hungarian spokesman Zoltan Kovacs when talking about a large, defended border wall that has successfully kept the illegal immigrants that were flooding Hungary at bay.
In 2015, the European Union (EU) voted to impose migrant quotas for each country member. Hungary was asked to take 1,294 migrants, but the government refused.
“We would like to retain the elements of sovereignty, which are there by law, and we are against a stealth way of taking away elements of your sovereignty,” Kovacs said.
The nation says it must protect its borders, even though the international reaction has been quite negative.
“Many say that what we have [in Hungary] is something like xenophobia, but it’s certainly not true,” Kovacs said.
Despite the criticism, Hungarians almost unanimously backed Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s refusal to take refugees, with 98.4 percent voting in approval of the action.
The people of Hungary have also shown great support in defending the wall. As Hungary’s second border fence is completed, more than 1,000 residents will receive extensive training to become “border hunters” at the 96-mile long, 14-ft. tall “double-line of defense.”
All visitors must apply to go to the area, as the entire vicinity of the fence is closed to the public. The wall features several layers of razor-wire, electric shock capability, cameras, heat sensors and loud speakers used to deter would-be law breakers.
They also patrol the wall. There are a few hundred of the “border hunters” and almost every Hungarian police officer participates in a rotation to secure the grounds. The combination makes illegal entry nearly impossible.
“They don’t even try,” a local border guard told The Daily Caller. “We haven’t had a Syrian in six months.”
Any migrant that does make it into the country is typically caught and arrested by round-the-clock patrols. After a brief visit to a “transit zone,” their cases are processed. If they aren’t approved for asylum, they’re sent to the Serbian side of the border.
It’s a far cry from 2015, when thousands of migrants crossed the border daily. Kovacs said they had “well beyond 100,000 people who came across,” and days when 10,000 would cross at a time.
Laszlo Toroczkai, the mayor of a border town called Asotthalom, called it “an invasion.” He continued, “Illegal immigration is a crime in a normal country. It’s not a normal thing to break into a country.”
Toroczkai wanted the fence. And after considering other options, the Orban administration supported his request for the physical barrier. The results were astounding. Crossings went from 6,353 in a day to 870 the next, all the way down to below 40 per day. The country had successfully stopped the invasion, but relations with the European Union were damaged.
Kovacs said there was a “political barrage and charges that we are inhumane,” but he maintains that the wall was a matter of common sense.
“There is no more effective way [to stop] illegal border crossings than building a physical barrier,” Kovacs said. He says it may not be a well-liked option, but it’s effective when combined with the additional support of laws, manpower and technology.
Kovacs estimates that the wall has cost around 700 million euros ($763 million), but that they would’ve spent “a lot more” by hosting and deporting illegal crossers.
They’re still working on the diplomatic fallout, however. Other countries want the EU to issue an ultimatum for Hungary to either accept more refugees or leave the union. Hungary remains unmoved.
Kovacs maintains that Hungary has a right to sovereignty. He also believes in the original purpose of the European project which was to build solidarity among the countries.
“Now, when you bump into problems and a crisis, you should go back to the founding fathers. That’s what the U.S. usually does and it works,” Kovacs said.
Meanwhile, the United States is still battling over its own border wall with Mexico, leaving conservatives reeling after news that funding for the wall will not be part of the new budget.
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