Germany is under pressure due to the growing influx of Ukrainian asylum seekers and refugees, prompting the German government to consider legal changes and increased surveillance of its borders with Poland. The small town of Forst, located on the border with Poland, has become a epicenter of the migration crisis in Germany, recalling the refugee situation in 2015 that created tensions throughout the country.
An incident this week highlighted the magnitude of the problem when a van driver, an 18-year-old, refused to stop for the police. After the chase, the driver abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. When officers checked the van, they found 30 people packed inside, including a two-year-old child. They are all Syrians and lack documentation. On Wednesday, September 20, the Federal Police detected more than 170 people illegally entering southern Brandenburg. In addition to the driver of the Forst, three other smugglers were arrested.
The constant flow of illegal entries along the eastern border has led to an increase in voices calling for permanent border control at the borders with Poland and the Czech Republic. Until now, the government of the German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz did not consider it necessary to implement such measures, but recently suggested that it might be necessary to do so in Poland. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has stepped up spot checks and deployed more officers to patrol the more than 1,000 kilometers that separate Germany from its eastern neighbors.
Irregular migration, central to the debate
The controversy surrounding irregular migration and the country’s receiving capacity has become a central issue in the political debate in . Germany is at breaking point, with municipalities claiming to be unable to provide decent accommodation for new arrivals, overcrowded schools, an overstretched health care system and high waiting list for German courses, which are required for integration. .
This migration crisis comes at a time when the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party is gaining momentum in the polls. Although there are many factors contributing to the rise in popularity, the growing influx of asylum seekers is one of the main reasons. Until the end of August, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) recorded more than 204,000 initial asylum applications, an increase of 77% compared to the same period last year. Added to this is the arrival of more than a million Ukrainians seeking protection in Germany due to the war of aggression against Russia, without having to formally request asylum.
The new immigration crisis has raised tensions across the country and forced politicians and leaders to give their opinion on this thorny issue. Even the German president, Frank Walter Steinmeier mostly moderate, acknowledged last week that Germany had reached a “breaking point” and called for a reinforcement of controls and surveillance at external borders.
The Greens party, which is part of the coalition government, has been accused of blocking measures aimed at classifying many countries as safe, which would facilitate the deportation of their citizens who do not have the right to asylum. The co-president of the Greens, Ricarda Lang urged the Government to “prevent more and more people from arriving” and criticized his Social Democratic colleagues for not doing enough to repatriate those without a valid reason to stay in Germany.
The Christian Democrat opposition also accused Chancellor Scholz of inaction and proposed a state agreement on migration policy that would reform the asylum system and set a maximum limit on asylum seekers in 200,000 people a year. However, this proposal faces legal and political challenges.
Recurring crisis in Germany
Germany is facing a major problem with the migration crisis which will have a major impact on the upcoming elections and political relations with the opposition. The possibility of establishing border controls represents an important change, because it would question the Schengen agreement, which eliminates controls at the internal borders of the European Union.
The situation has also led to tensions in Poland, especially due to a scandal over the sale of visas that increased the arrival of migrants in Germany. Concerns about immigration and the rise of the far right have been intertwined in the German political debate, with experts urging politicians to remain moderate and avoid populist responses.