Could the Ukraine Conflict cause a realignment on Immigration ?
The war in Ukraine has sparked one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern history and the worst refugee crisis in Europe since WWII. Since the war started an estimated 2.3 Million Ukrainians have left the country, a dramatically high number in such as short period of time, and much larger than the 2015 migrant crisis. So far the Biden administration has announced protected status for Ukrainians who are already here on temporary visas or who are undocumented but there is no aggressive plan to relocate Ukrainians. One poll shows that three quarters of Americans support welcoming Ukrainian refugees and another poll shows support from about half of Americans, with support from 65% of Democrats, 51% of Independents, and 41% of Republicans.
We tend to think of refugees as non-White, but in this case of a large numbers of White refugees, it will be interesting to see how different political sides react. So far liberals have been mostly supportive of welcoming Ukrainians, as they generally claim to be both pro-Ukraine and pro-immigrant. There is strong support for welcoming Ukrainians across the political aisle but this migration crisis could cause political realignments down the road due to the massive numbers of White immigrants which is unprecedented in modern history.
I coined the term Woke Xenophobia in the context of a New York Times article complaining about Black Farmworkers in the Mississippi Delta being displaced by White South African immigrant workers. Certainly woke xenophobia applies to the collective punishment against Russians, such as Russian citizens being denied medical care at a Hospital in Munich. The New York Times story was very niche with unique ironies of Black American farmworkers being displaced to pick cotton with references to the history of Apartheid. What was notable was that the columnist, Miriam Jordan, who is usually very pro-immigration engaged in xenophobic rhetoric about the h-2b farm worker visa program, which Joe Biden renewed and expanded. However, even Miriam Jordan is now very supportive of welcoming Ukrainian refuges
The responses from different nations to Ukrainian refugees vary. The Visegrad nations have been especially generous, with Poland welcoming more than any other nation. Ireland, Germany and Canada have also been very generous. However, The UK has been called out for being especially stingy, and a few weeks ago Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson stated that Sweden will not take in Ukrainian refugees in nearly as large a scale as it did with Syrian and Iraqi refugees in 2015. She stated that “other EU-states will have to pull a bigger load this time instead”.
While nations have the right to determine their immigration policies, what is disgraceful about the UK and Sweden is that they have generally been the most pro-immigration countries in Europe but are closing their doors now. Sweden has especially been known for welcoming refugees from the Middle East and Africa and the UK recently opened its doors to practically all residents of Hong Kong, which was inconsistent with their history of not granting right of return to their own diaspora in the case of Zimbabwe. Contrast this with France, which granted the right of return to their diaspora from North Africa and Germany which did so with ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union. Even Nigel Farage, who is known as the most rightwing figure in the UK, has been weary of accepting large numbers of Ukrainian refuges to the UK while boasting that Brexit would help more Black people immigrate to the UK. This reflects a uniquely hyper individualistic streak to the British, even though an opinion poll shows a strong majority of the British support welcoming Ukrainian refugees, with Labor voters more so than conservatives. Also immigrant hardliner and French presidential candidate, Eric, Zemmour—who generally supports a total immigration moratorium-- supports welcoming a limited number of refugees from Ukraine.
The reaction from the woke crowd has been more alleging favoritism over non-Whites, rather than opposing asylum for Ukrainians. For instance the New York Times tweeted that “But unlike refugees from wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan who have sought asylum in Europe over the past decade, they are being welcomed.” 1619 Project founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones, blasted the coverage on Ukraine as racialized and MSNBC’s Reid-Out Blog called out Eurocentric takes on the Ukraine crisis from other establishment media outlets such as CBS News and the BBC. In the BBC’s interview with Ukraine’s Deputy Chief Prosecutor, David Sakvarelidze, he said that “It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed, children being killed every day by [Russian President] Putin’s missiles, helicopters and rockets.” This blatant display of White ethnocentrism was allowed on the BBC with no woke rebuttal. In another interview Bulgaria’s Prime Minister was asked about accepting refugees from Ukraine and his response was “These are people who are Europeans, so we and all other EU countries are ready to welcome them." Woke types may have been outraged but their complaints now seem more of a sidenote rather than the center of discourse.
A Congressman representing São Paulo Brazil, Arthur do Val, sparked controversy in his statement to the Guardian that “"I’ve just crossed the border on foot between Ukraine and Slovakia. Bro, I swear to you … I’ve never seen anything like it in terms of beautiful girls. The refugee queue … it’s like 200 meters long or more of just total goddesses. It’s some incredible s–t … The queue outside Brazil’s best nightclub … doesn’t come close to the refugee queue here." On a similar note dissident right social media personality, Felix Rex/Black Pigeon Speaks, stated that “If war breaks out and 5 million female Ukrainian refugees show up at the door, I have a feeling Western women will not be lining up at train stations to welcome them. In fact, they will come to the conclusion that their countries are exactly as diverse as they need to be.” These types of comments are insensitive to the humanitarian crisis but demonstrate the role that biopolitical issues, including race and gender, play. For instance the 2015 European migrant crisis was disproportionately large numbers of military aged men of non-Western origin, which was bound to cause social instability and was just a bad policy decision. In contrast Ukrainian refugees are disproportionally women as the Ukrainian government is banning men from leaving.
There is a fundamental difference between the narrative from the anti-imperialist left as opposed to the woke left. For instance MSNBC’s Joy Reid supports the foreign policy establishment’s narrative of unprovoked aggression, is supportive of draconian sanctions, promoted hysteria about the right and the faux/populist left admiring Putin, yet whines about favoritism towards Ukrainian refugees over non-White refugees. However, the anti-imperialist left makes a valid point as far as how the US funds and arms Saudi Arabia’s atrocities in Yemen.
Despite negative impacts of US foreign policy on poorer non-White nations, The US has been incredibly generous towards non-White immigrants who vastly outnumber White immigrants. Any politician who wants to limit White immigration but has a pro-immigration track record has zero moral and intellectual credibility. The large numbers of non-White immigrants have mostly arrived via family reunification or employment based visas rather than refugee intake, which makes up a modest share of overall immigration.
The Great Replacement agenda to de-Whiten the West has truth to it but does not explain the entirety of the narrative. Woke activists are political pawns, useful idiots, but don’t reflect the real seats of power. Ukrainians will likely be granted favoritism over non-White refugees due to Ukraine being the center of attention with a bipartisan consensus to welcome Ukrainians. There is not the national security risks that there would be with refugee resettlement of such a large scale with Afghanistan, that GOP national security hawks would stifle. Ukrainians are also now favored over non-White migrants in Europe and even if the wheat shortages cause famine in the Middle East and Africa, many non-White migrants will likely be turned away. Ukrainians are geopolitical allies and I expect the US government to welcome them, as the Biden family has strong ties to Ukraine and will likely repay them for support with immigrant visas.
It is an extreme rightwing position that is way outside the Overton window to call to exclude non-Whites from immigration. However, just calling to include Whites as part of immigration and diversity can set off woke types. Prior to the current hype about helping Ukrainians, the Washington Post accused Trump of favoring Ukrainians over other refugees, stating that “As President Trump has significantly reduced the number of refugees allowed to settle in the country and specifically pushed to keep Muslims out, an unlikely nationality has come to represent a disproportionate share of the refugees who have been entering the United States in recent years: Ukrainians.” Trump also got flak from allegations by John Bolton, who is a war criminal, that he made rather innocuous comments that he wanted to propose asylum for White South African farmers. However, there seems to be a paradigm shift with the New York Times publishing an op-ed by libertarian, Ilya Somin, calling on the US to welcome both Ukrainians as well as Russians, specifically to weaken Putin. This proposal is imperialistic but also implicitly pro-White demographically.
While Ukraine may has been declared the George Floyd of countries, I doubt the extreme woke are emotionally invested in helping Ukraine beyond owning Putin as a symbol of the “global rightwing conspiracy.” Solidarity for Ukraine has become a socially acceptable form of White identity politics, such as the implicit Whiteness of the recent SNL tribute to Ukraine. Pro-Ukraine rallies tend to be disproportionately White and from the older Cold War generation. A lot of mainstream liberals are not only supporting mass White immigrant but actually supporting putting them to the front of the line but also open framework for refugees in general.
Overall I expect the right to be divided between immigration skeptics who want little to no immigration, ethnocentric motives to bolster the White population, and the hawkish GOP who would welcome Ukrainians to own Putin. The strongest support for welcoming Ukrainians seems to be from libertarians and ironically neoliberal center-left types. The woke left is now alleging favoritism rather than opposing Ukrainians but in the long-term, I see less enthusiasm from the woke/POC collation.
I predict there could be growing opposition to welcoming Ukrainians from both the woke left and the anti-immigrant right. There are economic issues such as competition over jobs, taking into account the bad economy and the large numbers of immigrants, especially in Europe. In Europe the large numbers of refugees plus the dire economy could lead to a surge in populist and nationalist politics. I also predict that the left will engage in some xenophobia but for the most part will use the crisis to lobby, using moral blackmail, to radically increase the amount of refugees in general. In the US there could be culture clashes with woke liberals as Ukrainians tend to be conservative on social issues and race relations and there is potential for anti-White xenophobia as far as competing with non-Whites for jobs and housing.
Most Ukrainian refugees will go to European but as European resources are strained, the US will be under pressure to take in more refugees, as many Russians and Ukrainians are already seeking asylum at the US Mexico border. This new wave of immigration could have an impact on existing Ukrainian communities, including in California. According to census estimates, “there are roughly 112,000 or so folks of Ukrainian descent who live in California. You’ve got a cluster here in Los Angeles, and in San Diego, but also a good amount in Northern California, clustered in the Bay Area and Sacramento.” There could be a huge demographic impact on California as long as NIMBYs don’t hamper efforts as they did with Afghanistan refugees resettlement.
There has not been a major source of White immigrants to America since the fall of the Soviet Union. The large numbers of White immigrants alone is a major paradigm shift as far as the narrative being pro-immigration and for humanitarianism but also pro-White demographically. There is a lot more nuance in the various geopolitical motives behind immigration policy, including economic and geopolitical factors that go beyond just woke culture. America should welcome Ukrainians, regardless of if it serves a geopolitical purpose of owning Putin. Welcoming Ukrainians, is the right standpoint from both a humanitarian standpoint and for demographic reasons.