BY EMMA RUBIN '20
In Germany, anxieties over asylum seekers have led German Chancellor Angela Merkel to organize a concrete plan to quickly deport rejected migrants. In 2015, Chancellor Merkel declared an open-door policy for refugees, under which Germany permitted the entrance of close to 1 million refugees, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The policy contrasted the refugee policies of other states in the European Union at the time.
The Christmas market attack in Berlin on Dec. 19 sent shocks through the country and around the world after a Tunisian migrant who had been denied asylum hijacked a truck and drove through a Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring 49.
Since the attack, Chancellor Merkel has faced backlash for her stance on refugees and as a result, is instituting a more conservative plan regarding refugees, which is intended to help her regain popularity amongst German conservatives. According to Deutsche Welle, on Feb. 9, Chancellor Merkel and leaders from Germany’s 16 states met in Berlin to create a plan to increase the speed of the deportation process in Germany. Germany’s current system leaves deportation to be handled independently by states, but the developing plan will give the federal government more power to manage deportations. DW also reported that the plan’s features will facilitate deporting migrants who are considered threats to the state and offer monetary incentives for migrants who voluntarily leave.
A key point of the new policy is the creation of a new deportation coordination center in Berlin, as well as providing exit centers near airports for rejected asylum seekers before they can be deported, according to BBC. In 2016, approximately 25,000 migrants were deported and about 55,000 left voluntarily, as reported by BBC.
Chancellor Merkel’s party, the Christian Democratic Union, faces competition from the left-of-center Social Democrats. Senior pollster at the Forsa Institute Dr. Peter Matuschek told the LA Times, “The SPD under [leader Martin] Schulz have a unified position supporting refugees. The conservatives don’t.”
Left-leaning German states have criticized the plan, claiming that it is not safe to deport migrants from certain countries. Prime ministers of five German states are attempting to block efforts to return rejected asylum seekers to Afghanistan, according to The Telegraph.
Kali Muhly-Alexander ’20, who participated in an exchange program in Germany in 2015 said, “It is a delicate situation because there are so many political parties, it is hard to appeal to all of them and at the same time remain true to [Chancellor Merkel’s] beliefs and her party’s beliefs.”
Muhly-Alexander also elaborated on the role of the refugee crisis and influx of immigrants in Germany and said that the crisis “has created more conflict within the different parties.” The developing deportation policy functions as a bridge to gain support from those who are hesitant about Germany’s current refugee policies.