Just days after reports came in tallying the record number of refugees pouring into Germany, their chancellor, Angela Merkel, has agreed to impose stricter regulations on migrants attempting to enter her country.
The BBC has reported that the New Year’s Eve attacks carried out by men of North African and Arab appearance has prompted the German chancellor to amend her open-door migrant policy by tightening regulations on who comes into her country and making it an easier process to deport asylum-seekers who commit crimes.
Much speculation was made this past week after the reported number of asylum-seekers reaching Germany reached an excess of one million, concerning many German citizens and law makers of the overwhelming amount of war-torn migrants they would now be sharing a country with.
It didn’t take long for controversy to arise.
On New Year’s Eve, sex attacks and muggings targeting women in Cologne has brought German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door migrant policy under fire and the events, carried out by men that many claim were part of the million asylum-seekers to reach Germany, has been used as a propaganda tool to attack Merkel and her policy by the far-right Pegida movement, a German anti-Islamic political group founded in October, 2014.
Saturday morning gave way to an anti-immigrant protest in the German city of Cologne. Reports claim bottles and firecrackers were directed at police lines by protesters from the right-wing-anti-immigrant Pegida movement, forcing Cologne officers to disperse the group using water cannons and pepper spray.
But the anti-Islam Pegida group wasn’t the only protest Cologne witnessed Saturday. Feminist groups in the region rallied to protest the recent violence against women in the city of Cologne, along with a left-wing anti-Pegida counter-demonstration.
Mrs. Merkel has now resorted to proposing an amendment to her open-door migrant policy: putting focus on the law that denies the right of asylum for those who have committed crimes in the past along with possibility of deporting migrants who are on probation.
“When crimes are committed, and people place themselves outside the law… there must be consequences,” Merkel told reporters after a meeting of her Christian Democrat party leadership in Mainz.
Current German laws will only forcibly send back asylum seekers if they have been sentenced to at least three years’ imprisonment, and providing their lives are not at risk in their countries of origin.
The Telegraph reported early Saturday that Cologne police issued a statement identifying the number of offenses during New Year’s Eve had reached 379 with 40 percent of those numbers being cases of sexual assault (150).
“Those in focus of criminal police investigations are mostly people from North African countries. The majority of them are asylum-seekers and people who are in Germany illegally,” the statement says.
The police’s handling of the situation has also taken fire from the public who felt local officials were protecting those responsible knowing them to be individuals of foreign decent and trying to avoid public controversy regarding their leader’s recent political decision.
And as is the case around the world, established Islamic groups in the region have expressed fears that the actions of a few may jeopardize the future of many.
Despite the turmoil unfolding in Germany, U.N. Special Representative for Migration, Peter Sutherland, has backed the German chancellor, whose career is now being defined by her audacious migrant policy.
Mr. Sutherland declared Mrs. Merkel’s recent move is “entirely appropriate.”
“The full application of the criminal law against those who behave in the way that has apparently taken place is appropriate, and they should not be entitled to asylum.
“However, on the other hand, one must not overreact against a whole category of people.”
[AP Photo/Michael Sohn]