An American View on German Immigration Policy
While the extremes of the German political spectrum are rapidly diverging, the protection of ethnic minorities is not as much of a national priority as it should be. The very notion that the world’s 62nd largest, 18th most populous state would close themselves off to accepting migrants and saving innumerable lives during a humanitarian crisis is deplorable, yet so many are in favor of this exact policy. This issue goes beyond national borders. There are almost 14 million Syrian refugees around the world (as of right now) in need of humanitarian aid. The majority of them are displaced internally or rejected from countries founded upon principles of freedom because of the growing stigma of hate surrounding them and their culture. This vilification needs to end.
By definition, a migrant is any person who lives temporarily or permanently in a country where he or she was not born and has acquired significant social ties to this aforementioned country. They’re not a terrorist. They’re not a threat. They’re not any more likely to put civilians in danger than native-born citizens are. For the record, the three asylum-seekers who carried out acts of terrorism last year in Germany arrived well before the Chancellor’s implementation of a generous immigration policy. In the same year, there were over 3,500 attacks on migrants and asylum seekers, yet these seem to be mentioned far less than the terrorist attacks.
Over the past two years, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s promise of “Welcome Culture” for the million new arrivals has evolved, while still remaining fundamentally unchanged. With increasing public fear of terrorism and a staggering loss of conservative support, Merkel has backed down from some of her more left-wing statements, such as: “We remain steadfast in believing that refugees should be helped, with no limits.”
There are now quite a number of limits to combat.
To begin with, an entire political party has been specifically constructed upon the principle of of anti-immigration, primarily toward the Turkish Muslim population, the largest German ethnic minority. Known as the Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, what would be considered Germany’s alt-right has gained momentum in regional seats, and is now aiming for the Bundestag.
Furthermore, the influx of Syrian refugees admitted under Merkel’s open-door policies spurred an equally discriminatory movement known as PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West. Thousands participating in this initiative protested Merkel’s policy. While not all were members of the AfD, their motives are essentially the same. In 2015, Björn Höcke, one of the highest-ranking members of the AfD, defined the motive of his party as “a movement of the German people against the societal experiments of past decades.” These “experiments” pertain to gender mainstreaming and embracing multiculturalism.
However, the only way to prevent terrorism worldwide is to encourage multiculturalism- by providing opportunities for resistance to the groups most vulnerable to radicalization and by protecting the rights of migrants through foreign policy. The inherent destructivity of anti-immigration sentiments is that if people feel criminalized by their state, they are more likely to resent it. The German government therefore cannot legislatively declare war on Islam, among other cultural groups. Rather, they must fight the greater battle for peace. All nations, including the United States, must collaborate in promoting international empathy, in order to ameliorate the circumstances for migrants and to redefine global immigration.