Poland is changing. This year it elected only the world’s second transgender MP. In 2010, a black MP was elected – one more than France. The economy is booming, next to booming Germany — and now it is a destination country for migrants.
Poland’s economy is predicted to grow by four percent this year. It was the only member of European Union to avoid recession during the 2008-09 global financial crisis.
Growth has led the country which exported millions of workers to Western Europe during the past two decades, causing a population reduction, to now become attractive to migrants, especially from neighboring former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Belarus, who would previously have regarded it as somewhere to transit through, not stop in.
Now thousands of illegal immigrants will be allowed to stay and work in Poland under an amnesty announced on December 26. Rafal Rogala of the immigration office told Reuters that legalizing the immigrants will benefit the Polish economy by turning them into taxpayers.
It will apply to undocumented immigrants who arrived in Poland before December 20, 2007, and to asylum seekers who were denied refugee status before January 1, 2010, provided that they have continuously resided in Poland — around 7,000 people it is estimated. Most are believed to be in or around Warsaw.
Jacek Kozłowski, governor of the Warsaw region, said:
We all know of whole families which reside in our country illegally, because of an error in paper work. We want to help these kinds of people.
The government has also implemented new six-month work visas for Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians, Georgians and Moldovans.
Poland has implemented amnesties before, but the requirements were judged to be too strict.
Rogala said Poland wanted to attract not only seasonal construction and farming workers but also highly-skilled workers.
Picture by Sem Paradeiro