Merkel’s interior minister: “Security begins at the borders.”
Germany will ramp up border checks to stop illegal immigrants, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer announced. The move comes after the country’s right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) made big gains in the last month’s regional elections.
Berlin “simply can’t get a grip” on illegal immigration, German newspaper Bild claimed. “The problem has aggravated as more and more Syrian refugees cross over from Turkey into the EU,” the newspaper reported on Sunday, “The situation in cramped refugees camps in Greece is dramatic. German government fears that many of the migrants could try to get to Germany.”
Germany’s state broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported the latest measures to curb illegal immigration:
Germany’s federal police are set to increase the number of random border checks, said Interior Minister Horst Seehofer late Sunday.
The move is designed to noticeably strengthen police presence at the borders and discourage “secondary migration,” the Interior Ministry wrote on Twitter. Secondary migration is when migrants from non-EU countries move illegally between EU member states.
“Security begins at the borders,” said the Christian Social Union politician in a comment to the German tabloid Bild am Sonntag.
Earlier this week, Seehofer extended the presence of controls at the border between Austria and Germany until spring 2020. An Interior Ministry spokesman said police have continued to identify a large number of people illegally crossing the borders into the country.
While German Chancellor Angela Merkel takes halfhearted measures to ‘discourage’ illegal immigration, the current migrant surge is a problem of her own making. Earlier this month, she agreed to accept 25 percent of all illegal migrants arriving on the Italian coast. The AfD criticized the government for offering incentives to illegal immigrants by granting them blanket asylum. Needless to say, these warnings have largely gone unreported by the German media.
Four years ago, the EU-Turkey migrant deal negotiated by Berlin settled hundreds of thousands of migrants in Europe from Turkish migrant camps each year.
The latest step to secure Germany’s borders is apparently part of a political maneuver by Merkel’s government to prevent the right-wing rival from making further gains. “While Germany’s establishment parties are likely to retain control of both states, the AfD’s surge illustrates the difficulty centrist parties face in combating the rise of populism in Europe’s largest country,” Politico reported in the wake the last month’s regional elections. “Berlin is searching for a strategy to deal with the new reality.”
While the government in Berlin talks tough on illegal immigration, the border police are unprepared to follow through with the orders. The chairman of the German Police Federation (GdP), Jörg Radek, admitted that “preconditions to spread the police across Germany’s borders were’t there at present.” The police lack basic gear to face the coming winter or vehicles to patrol the border — let alone helicopters, the police union chief told German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel. “We don’t even have winter boots to start with,” Radek complained.
Germany is not the only country bursting at the seems when it comes to illegal immigration.
Greece has witnessed a huge rise in the number of illegal immigrants landing on its shores via Turkey, according to the EU border agency FRONTEX. The Greek “islands right now are suffering from strangulation due to overcrowding at the facilities, and there is a need for more effective border guarding, and concern over possible increased flows in the coming period,” the government in Athens admitted in August.
Since Matteo Salvini’s right-wing Liga party left the government, Italy, has also seen a similar rise in illegal immigrants coming through the Mediterranean route.
Germany’s AfD party celebrates gains in east German election
[Cover image via YouTube]
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