Ukrainian labour migrants in Poland: part of society or unwanted visitors?
The fall of Communism has brought about significant social and economical changes and consequently, labour migration has reached serious dimensions in the regions of Central and Eastern Europe. The majority of the countries that make up this territory lacked sufficient experience in managing labour migration and integrating immigrants into society. These factors have resulted in the growth of an international mobility experience for Poles. Poland has become sending emigrant country and simultaneously – the host of the tens of thousands of foreigners, including legal and illegal immigrants. This is probably only the first stage of this well-spread phenomenon, ”once immigration to Poland has been initiated as a mass and long-lasting phenomenon, it will follow what seems to be a universal European migration cycle”.
As Marek Kupiszewski and other Polish researchers argue, Poland should be immensely interested in proper labour migration regulations and practices: as both the sending country, and the receiving country, aiming to manage migration flows with a view to meet the emerging labour market shortages and to enhance the overall economic growth of the country.3 But not less important is the way the majority of Poles perceive these immigrants in their country. In various studies this factor was found as being practically insignificant. Poland is a very homogenous society and there is often no adequate understanding of the social and economic value of labour migration. Moreover, attitudes towards foreigners might also be an important mediating and decisive factor in Poland’s immigration process.