By Vincent Verdile
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of the Christian Democratic Union, alongside Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Christian Social Union, announced that they are aiming to limit the number of refugees admitted into Germany every year, reports CNN. The agreed number of refugees was 200,000, although both parties agree that no person will be “turned away” even if the limit is reached.
This announcement comes months after Chancellor Merkel refused to accept an upper limit on the number of refugees admitted per year. Merkel has been praised for her so called “open door migration policy” that started in 2015, allowing more than 1.4 million asylum seekers into Germany, reports CNN.
The right-winged Alternative for Germany party goes further than a number limit, stating that even those with legitimate asylum claims should be sent back as the “predominantly Muslim newcomers do not fit into German culture,” according to The Washington Post.
Alternative for Germany managed to win 12.6 percent of the German vote, making them the third largest party in the Bundestag, the German Parliament.
Tim Muller, a social scientist at Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research, believes policymakers are focused on “how can we make sure that they [refugees] leave when the crisis is over,” rather than, “how can we make them citizens?”
Reported by the Washington Post, German policymakers have shifted their focus in order to further the integration of asylum seekers into German society. Their four priorities are getting jobs for the refugees, teaching them German, educating them in German civics, and avoiding permanent living within ghettos created for overflow.
Mandfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party, believes Germany should “apply [a] refugee policy similar to Canada,” reports Politico. The German basic law allows all of those fleeing political persecution to seek protection within German borders. In order to ensure this law is not violated, the policy can be created through European Union law. By avoiding the change in the German constitution, which Chancellor Merkel refuses to consider, it will allow the pressure of the refugee crisis to be moved to an international stage.
According to the Wall Street Journal, citizens like Nadine Langer in Salzgitter, Germany are concerned with “local culture becoming diluted.” She had brought her six year old daughter to the first day of school to find she was one of two German children in a class of twenty Syrian children.
A national school report, released by the German Education Ministry, found that there is a direct correlation between the increase in migrant school children and a decrease in academic performance. In 2016, the share of foreign fourth graders rose from one-third to 34 percent from 2011. Furthermore, the number of children who passed the writing requirement decreased to 55 percent from 65 percent in just five years.
Going beyond the classroom, adult refugees are struggling to obtain jobs. According to the Wall Street Journal, the German labor agency reported that only 15 percent of refugee adults had jobs while 90 percent of adults were living on government benefits.
Michael Groger, candidate for Alternative for Germany Salzgitter, believes “an asylum seeker is a temporary guest” and “does not have to be integrated”. These views are affirmed by German citizens like Gulcan Dia, an employee for a pro-refugee charity, who has witnessed “permanent fighting” between asylum seekers forcing the police to respond, reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Many refugees, like Khaled Tabanja, according to The Washington Post, are extremely grateful for what Germany has to offer. He is a huge supporter of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and urges others to “get involved in politics even if they can’t vote”. He respects the differences between the German parties, but acknowledges that his future in Germany is at stake.