AFPGerman Chancellor Scholz at a press conference on the country’s refugee policy in May this year
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 07:03
We must finally deport those who have no right to stay on a large scale. With these words, Chancellor Olaf Scholz underlined the German government’s tougher migration policy in a much-discussed interview with the weekly Der Spiegel at the end of October.
Four days earlier, Germany stepped up controls at its own borders. Temporary, although the measure is continually extended. The move is a response to increasing pressure on the German government to admit fewer people.
The number of asylum applications in Germany increased by more than 67 percent this year until the end of October. Municipalities indicate that they can no longer cope with the shelter. Meanwhile, support for the radical right anti-migration party AfD is growing.
Easier returns at the border
Along the highway in Forst, on the Polish border, officer Frank explains how the controls work. Some cars are allowed to drive through, suspicious cars are waved into the police trap.
He is not allowed to say what exactly counts as suspicious. What is striking is that many white vans, trucks, SUVs and passenger cars with many passengers have to pass inspection. The police search the cars and check the papers.
According to Frank, the measure is mainly aimed at human smugglers. “The checks increase the chance that they will be caught at the border, and so you see that this has decreased considerably.”
But the measure also leads to legal inequality. In places without checks, you have entered Germany if you are on German soil. Then, even if you have no right to stay, you must be accommodated and deported through a procedure.
Where checks now take place, you have only officially entered once you have passed the check. “We can immediately refuse people access there.” Police say people who are allowed to apply for asylum will not be sent back. Anyone who does not indicate at the border that he is seeking protection, but, for example, says that he wants to come to work, has no right to apply for asylum.
According to Scholz, other countries have often “simply waved migrants on” to Germany. They do not carefully control the borders, because most people do not want to stay in their country, but are in transit to Germany.
This seems to be changing due to the new controls. Countries such as Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary fear that the people Germany sends back will stay with them. And so checks have also been stepped up there.
Fewer asylum applications
Olaf Jansen, the leader of the registration center for asylum seekers in Eisenhüttenstadt, comparable to Ter Apel, on the Polish border, has noticed the effects of this. This is where the border police take people who indicate that they need protection and want asylum in Germany.
“We are noticing a sharp decline in incoming asylum seekers, especially at the Polish border,” Jansen said. “That is now only 20 percent of what it was before the extra checks.”
However, more beds will not immediately become available in his registration center. The procedures for the people who are already there are too slow for that.
He calls Scholz’s announcement to deport many more people who are already in Germany unrealistic. Because most people who come, because they seek protection and can work, have the right to stay. “Even if we deported five times as many people, that would still be a drop in the ocean.”
He understands that many Germans now see migration as a major problem. This is partly related to the rise of the AfD, “which fuels those concerns”. At the same time, he believes that the concern about loss of control is justified. “Unlimited migration and maintaining our level of prosperity are mutually exclusive.”
Yet he laughs at the promise of political parties to solve the migration problem. “They can’t solve that. Migration has existed for as long as humanity has existed. Look, the GDR used to be here. Then they really controlled the borders well. And people were still coming through.”