How Merkel will Integrate a million refugees: separating Trump fiction from the facts.

Author:Engelen-Kefer, Ursula
 
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Today "Hosanna," tomorrow "Crucify him!" These words from the Bible also apply in politics, as Chancellor Angela Merkel, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, has had to learn.

As this exploration of how Germany is coping with a million refugees based on "real facts" and not on "alternative facts" shows, neither "hosanna" nor "crucify" could be justified.

On September 4, 2015, after consultations with Austria's Chancellor Werner Faymann, Merkel gave the signal to leave open German borders for Syrian and other asylum seekers who were massing on the way from Austria to German border points. She was responding to the breakdown of the Schengen Area rules under which border countries of the European Union such as Greece and Italy had to control the Schengen Area borders.

As of August 2015, Donald Trump, then the Republican candidate for the White House, still praised Merkel in an interview with Time magazine "as probably the greatest leader in the world." He expressed sympathy for Germany and the hometown of his grandparents in Kallstadt, Rhineland Palatinate, although at the time the influx of refugees into the European Union, especially into Germany, was growing day by day. Later on his way to the White House, Trump radically changed his mind when he accused the German chancellor of making "one very catastrophic mistake" by admitting more than one million refugees. "What she's done in Germany is insane. It's insane," he said on CBS. Trump's dark scenario: "People are fleeing Germany which will never recover from Merkel's migrant folly." He predicted for Germany an unimaginable and catastrophic increase in upheaval, radicalization, and Islamic terrorism. When the terrorist attacks in Wurzburg and Ansbach happened in the summer of 2016, Trump felt vindicated, arguing that the German government was to blame for the crimes by refugees. But after the disastrous attack when a terrorist drove a stolen truck into a Berlin Christmas market, Trump switched from bashing Merkel to using this new ISIS assault as a declaration of war: "We will... unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth," and this will require that "The civilized world must change thinking!"

In view of such sinister predictions on Germany's refugee crisis, it might be useful to give a more realistic assessment of how Germany sofar has been coping on the federal, state, and community level--supported by a countrywide outpouring of spontaneous help from parts of the population--with the huge inflow of refugees.

It soon became apparent that Merkel's "We can do it" welcome stance towards the huge influx of refugees needed to be viewed in the context of more and more EU member countries closing their borders and the German interest in keeping a deeply divided European Union together. The inflows of refugees changed Europe's political landscape by giving a boost to right-wing, anti-immigrant parties, including Germany's Alternative fur Deutschland, which can expect to enter the Bundestag in the September 2017 federal elections.

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HOW THE REFUGEE CRISIS CAME ABOUT

First and foremost, the procedures for the registration of refugees under the so-called EU Dublin system didn't work. So Greece, the main destination of flows from Turkey, and Italy, the main destination of flows from North Africa, were unable tofulfil their obligations. At the peak of incoming refugees in 2015, hundreds of thousands of migrants marched and drove without registration into other EU member countries with open borders.

Most heavily affected by the refugee flows migrating from the border countries north have been Germany, Austria, Sweden, and Denmark. Several attempts by the German government to reach agreements for fair distribution of refugees among the EU members failed completely. Member countries in Eastern Europe in particular refused to cooperate. Hungary, the EU member with an outside border to the east, closed its borders to Serbia, which led to inhuman refugee catastrophes. Refugees in Greece and Italy were faced with unacceptable living conditions. The financial, administrative, and personnel assistance promised by the EU...

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