Latvian residents have mixed feelings about immigrants, says researcher

Many residents of Latvia have mixed feelings about possible recruitment of immigrants, researcher Mārtiņš Kaprāns told Latvian Television December 9, speaking about the study results published earlier by LSM.

"One large part of Latvian society is living in a state of confusion or at a crossroads where, on the one hand, they understand very well that the number of people and working hands in Latvia is what it is, and they see and hear local companies, which, especially in recent years, are reminding us that their workforce is lacking [..]

"But at the same time, in one large part of society, there is a sense of self-defense, a sense that our identity and social order can be compromised because it is a stereotype that immigrants also carry a potential threat to the rise of crime. This is quite entrenched in Latvian society," said the researcher.

Kaprāns said that residents' fears of migrants were likely linked to the migration experienced in Soviet times, but not only. These fears are also associated with asylum seekers and refugees today.

“To some extent, the turn was in 2015 the so-called European refugee crisis. Here in Latvia, too, the public opinion was quite volatile. It was initially welcoming, but quite quickly, especially when it showed what was happening in some cities of Western Europe, the attitude shifted," Kaprāns said.

According to him, "these fears of refugees, asylum seekers carried over to the whole set of immigrants as such".

He acknowledged that, like the research showed, there is a certain hierarchy from which countries Latvian residents would prefer to accept migrants. In particular, openness is greater toward countries closer geographically and culturally.

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