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Germany gets tougher on migrants?

PN surveys a mixed picture

There is a lot to admire about Germany’s response to the refugee crisis. The warm welcome extended by thousands of ordinary Germans (overwhelmingly women, mostly university-educated, either young or older folk) has been inspiring. A poll at the beginning of September found 87 percent of Germans were ashamed of recent anti-refugee attacks.

The German government has also been very welcoming of refugees from the Syrian warzone.

At the same time, the government has tightened up on non-Syrian asylum seekers, especially people coming from what are defined as ‘safe’ countries.

Whatever their individual circumstances, people will be refused asylum if they are from Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania or Montenegro. They could be Roma people facing vicious racism, or people from other oppressed minorities. They could be facing other threats to their human rights. It doesn’t matter, they’re from a ‘safe’ country.

Instant deportation

At the beginning of September, the state of Bavaria opened its first one-stop migrant reception and deportation centre, exclusively for people from the Balkans. They will be assessed in a one-hour interview, and deported within four-to-six weeks.

On 6 September, German chancellor Angela Merkel announced cuts to benefits for people likely to be deported (including food, clothing and accommodation).

In mid-September, a bill was leaked that showed the interior ministry intended to cut public benefits for asylum seekers. People who refused to give their country of origin (in order to avoid deportation) will be refused the right to work and lose social benefits.

Outsiders got the impression that Merkel said that Germany was going to accept 800,000 refugees in 2015. Actually, her government was predicting that 800,000 asylum seekers would arrive in Germany – a large number of whom would be refused asylum (40 percent of last year’s asylum seekers were from the ‘safe countries’ list).

Topics: Refugees