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Germany: Illegal immigration set to exceed record high

October 21, 2023

Police data released Saturday showed over 20,000 people entered Germany illegally in September, the highest monthly figure since February 2016. Politicians have yet to find a solution to the problem eight years on.

Police apprehend a group of young men attempting to illegally enter Germany from Poland
Illegal entries into the country have been on the rise for monthsImage: Markus Schreiber/AP Photo/picture alliance

Data released by the German Federal Police on Saturday showed that 21,366 individuals illegally entered Germany in September.

The number  — the single highest monthly tabulation of "unauthorized entries" into the country since February 2016, when 25,650 came after the peak of the so-called "refugee crisis" — follows a seven-month trend of increasingly high entry numbers.

Police data shows that 92,119 individuals illegally entered Germany between January and September of 2023, putting the country on track to exceed the 112,000 people that illegally entered in 2016.

Illegal migration, long a topic of hot debate across Europe and within Germany, has continued to put pressure on politicians to come up with an effective migration policy, something they have so far failed to do.

Scholz says Germany needs to conduct mass deportation of illegals

On Friday, leaders from the country's three governing coalition parties met in Berlin to further discuss the issue.

Speaking to reporters from the German weekly publication Der Spiegel, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, "We must finally deport on a grand scale those who have no right to stay in Germany."

At the same time, Scholz underscored the need for Germany to take in individuals truly entitled to asylum, as well as attracting more skilled immigrants into the country's aging workforce.

Scholz was reported as saying "a whole bundle of measures" were needed to address the issue of illegal migration into the EU — among them, hardening the bloc's external borders and increasing Germany's control of its own borders with EU neighbors.

Despite the principle of freedom of movement within the Schengen Area, Germany recently began conducting stops at its borders with the Czech Republic, Poland and Switzerland in an effort to confront the problem of illegal entries. Such controls already exist at Germany's border with Austria.

The Federal Police statistics also come at a time when the opposition CDU/CSU has pitched the creation of a small working group between themselves and the government as a possible vehicle for finally getting a grip on the socially divisive issue.

German police conducting nighttime controls at the border to the Czech Republic
Germany recently reintroduced border checks with its European neighbors despite the EU's freedom of movement policy in the Schengen AreaImage: Ondrej Hajek/CTK/dpa/picture alliance

Opposition pitches 'German migration pact'

Friedrich Merz, who leads the conservative opposition, recently met with Scholz to discuss the issue, presenting him with a 26-point list of demands, including an annual cap on the number of people allowed to enter the country [200,000].

On Friday, Merz followed up with a letter to the chancellor pitching the idea of a balanced bi-partisan group.

Speaking to party members on Saturday, Merz said, "If we want to maintain social cohesion in this country, we must resolve this problem now."

Lars Klingbeil, the leader of Scholz's Social Democratic Party (SPD) greeted the opportunity to work with the opposition, calling it, "a good signal to citizens that we in the democratic middle can work with one another."

"I expect to quickly find a common solution," he added.

Still, Klingbeil confessed he did not believe in the concept of migration caps, saying he could not imagine the state would be so heartless as to turn away those facing true political persecution if such a cap had already been reached.

Merz's idea is to create what he called a "German migration pact," with measures designed to decisively curb illegal entries as a way to take pressure off overburdened municipalities and restore public trust in government.

The issue of immigration has become increasingly central to German politics, giving rise, among others, to the growing popularity of the far-right, anti-immigration Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is currently polling around 22% nationwide — far ahead of all three ruling coalition parties.

Germany's migration policy divides communities

js/rc (AFP, dpa)  

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