Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wall Street Journal: The Czech Republic Pays for Immigrants to Go Home

Earlier this month I wrote about the Czech government's scheme to encourage foreign workers to leave the country. The Wall Street Journal ran a story about this incentive program today:

In 2007, foreigners scooped up nearly 40% of the new jobs created in the Czech Republic. In the last five years alone, the number of immigrant workers doubled to nearly 362,000 by the end of 2008.

With demand for exports down, unemployment has soared to a two-year high of 7.7%. Economists say the rate could hit 10% by year's end, and there are signs rising joblessness is pushing some Czechs to apply for the low-wage work they once left to foreign laborers. The Czech economy is set to contract by 2% this year -- a sharp fall from a growth peak around 7% in 2006.

In February, the government, fearing crime, homelessness and immigrants overstaying visas, launched a $3 million program to pay newly jobless migrants to go home. The pitch: €500 per legal immigrant, €250 for children under 15, and the cost of the tickets home.

Since February, 1,345 immigrants have signed on for the Czech program.

Though The Wall Street Journal mentions the high debt many of the foreign workers accrue just signing up to work in the Czech Republic via the "pay-to-go programs," no word is uttered about the mafia-like nature of the pay-to-go agencies, which immigrant rights experts say need to be scrutinized much more than individual workers on whom the police have stepped up their raids. The journal doesn't speak about the dangerous myths perpetuated by politicians and the press alike, flying the flag that falsely links crime to the foreign worker communities, and thus helps fuel the xenophobic sentiment already so prevalent among the Czechs.

For the rest of the article, go here.

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