1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany has detained 700 people smugglers — minister

April 13, 2024

German authorities stepped up border checks, arresting hundreds of people smugglers, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said. The operation has stopped nearly 18,000 migrants entering the country, she added.

Two people are stopped and searched by German police at a motorway rest stop on August 25, 2023
More than 700 people smugglers have been arrested since October, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on SaturdayImage: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa/picture alliance

Germany is having more success in tackling illegal migration, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told a regional newspaper group on Saturday.

"Our border checks have detained 708 smugglers since October and prevented 17,600 unauthorized entries," Faeser said in an interview with the Funke media group.

The minister also noted that asylum applications are "currently a fifth lower than in the same period last year."

Some 71,061 people applied for asylum in Germany from January to March 2024, according to data from the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. The figure is 9,917 or 19.2% lower than in the first quarter of 2023.

German states face challenges brought by migration

Immigration controls appear to be working

Faeser referred to measures passed by the German government in October in response to the sharp increase in migrants and refugees crossing into the country from neighboring countries.

Among them, Germany introduced temporary controls at the border with Poland, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland, which will last until mid-June.

Similar controls have been in place at the Austrian border for several years.

The government is now considering widening the measures to all borders in the lead-up to and during the Euro2024 football championship, which begins in June.

The other measures passed included speedier deportations of failed asylum seekers.

Two border police officers stop a vehicle at the German-Austrian border crossing of Walserberg on April 4th 2024
Germany introduced controls at the border with Poland, Czech Republic and Switzerland in OctoberImage: Revierfoto/Revierfoto

Tighter controls on refugee spending 

Last week, Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, voted to pay asylum seekers their welfare by payment card rather than cash.

The move is to stop migrants from using welfare to pay people smugglers or transfer money back to families abroad.

Some politicians are concerned that migrants have been drawn to Germany because of the social benefits.

"We help those whose lives we have to protect from war, torture and murder," Faeser told the newspaper group. "But it is also clear that anyone who does not need this protection cannot come to Germany or will have to leave Germany much more quickly.”

European Parliament backs big EU migration reform

EU asylum reform should help further

Faeser also praised the adoption of the EU asylum reform, which has taken years to finalize due to disagreements between member states but was passed last week by the European Parliament.

She said the government has “now clearly drawn this line in European and national law” and has "achieved more in the last few months than the Union has achieved in 16 years —  and we have done so with humanitarian responsibility and without resentment."

Faeser said she would visit the EU's external border between Bulgaria and Turkey on Monday to see how the new EU migration policy is working.

mm/rc (AFP, dpa, EPD)

While you're here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing.