Germany’s immigrant policy for refugees leaves it hard to know what position to take. On one hand, their open-immigration policy in the wake of the refugee crisis is to be commended. On the other, they have been so much more welcoming to refugees than their neighbors that they’re now faced not only with a huge backlog of asylum requests, it’s also bringing in job-seekers from countries like Morocco and Bangladesh — non-refugee migrants that Germany simply has no room for and has to turn away.
So, how to get them to actually leave?
According to an article from the Washington Post, the answer that Germany has come up with in many cases is to pay them to go home — whether with business investment grants, free vocational training, and in some cases just straight-up cash.
Germany’s refugee troubles started from the best of intentions — when the refugee crisis started, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced an open-door stance to those fleeing the war in the Middle East. Unfortunately, they turned out to be essentially the only European nation to be at all welcoming. Many were flat-out hostile, as the American media has illustrated in recent months, showing examples of newspaper and television ads from European nations such as Hungary and Denmark urging refugees to stay away. One notable video showed a Hungarian camerawoman actively kicking migrant children on the scene of a report.
So it is not surprising that refugees have flocked to Germany, a nation that is still trying to make amends for the abuses of its police-state eras. But migrants from non-embattled nations are taking the opportunity to flock there as well, and Germany is simply unable to keep up. Authorities say that they are already facing a backlog of 770,000 asylum requests, and that they are going to have to reject about half of them — which leaves them with the problem of how to get those 365,000 people to leave.
As Eugenio Ambrosi, European Union director of the International Organization for Migration commented, “if you move me because I’m starving and I’m sent back and I’m still starving, then I’ll just try again.” Many others have pointed out that Mexicans deported from America often quickly try to find their way back, and Germany is still looking for a gentle solution.
In that spirit, as The Telegraph reports, Angela Merkel recently struck a deal between the European Union and Turkey to rapidly process refugees and return many to Turkey. Estimated to cost 20 million euros a month (about $22.5 million USD,) the operation is intended to process 2,000 migrants daily, and to charter a fleet to ferry refugees denied asylum in the EU back to Turkey. In exchange, Turkey will send Syrian refugees directly to Europe in a one-for-one exchange. Unfortunately, at that rate, it will still be months, if not years, before all of the refugees can be processed.
And so, Germany is left weighing the option of mass-deportation — something that they definitely want to avoid. The solution has been to bribe instead.
The Washington Post spoke to Iraqi refugee Lauand Sadek, who voluntarily returned from Germany to his home country after they offered him a plane ticket home, and 6,000 euros (about $6,500 USD) to invest in a business in Iraq, which he did, purchasing a small grocery store in Irbil.
“I was alone and confused. I would have stayed in Germany longer, but their offer helped me understand. It was time to go.”
Nearly 100 other Iraqis have received similar offers, including promises of English classes, and over 5,000 Kosovars have received similar offers under an expanded program that already existed.
Small peanuts perhaps compared to the number of migrants remaining, but it’s working; denied immigrants are leaving under their own free will, not to return, and finding a better life in their home countries with Germany’s support.
Perhaps it’s time for more countries to follow Germany’s lead in a crisis characterized by human rights abuses.
[Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images]