By Jenilyn Brhel
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
BERLIN, Germany – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to limit the number of refugees allowed to enter Germany each year to 200,000, a decision that has elicited both support and criticism in the nation.
The German Christian Social Union and the Christian Democratic Union were in talks for hours before an agreement could be reached.
Many German voters had been angered with Merkel’s previous open-door policy, which effectively allowed in anyone who could reach the country. In 2015, this policy allowed over one million people in.
In July, Merkel stated “on the issue of an upper limit, my position is clear. I won’t accept one.”
Many see the policy as a concession to the demands of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD, which was propelled in September’s elections where Merkel lost millions of voters. The AfD campaigned on an anti-Islam, anti-migrant platform, becoming the third largest party in Parliament. The new measure is seen in many as a way of winning back voters.
Many believe that Merkel must negotiate with smaller parties in order to form a cohesive coalition government. Ms. Merkel believes the policy is necessary, saying that “Germany needs a stable government and the prerequisite for this was a common negotiating position.”
In 2016, the number of refugees capped at 280,000. That number has since fallen drastically, with fewer than 124,000 people applying for asylum in the first eight months of 2017. Experts are saying that the proposed limit is in line with current immigration trends.
The new policy is not being described as a limit, as no one who is seeking asylum will be turned away at the borders once the 200,000 limit has been reached. The figure can be altered should a new refugee crisis emerge.
The policy is being criticized, with Karl Kopp, director for European Affairs at Pro Asyl, a German refugee charity, saying that the policy is “not compatible with international law” and “totally unacceptable.”
Simone Peters, head of the Green Party, claimed that “The figure is completely arbitrary, fixed purely ideologically. As far as we’re concerned the fundamental right to asylum applies. When you throw together asylum seekers, refugee contingents, resettlement programs and family members joining refugees all in one pot, and then set a limit of 200,000, one group will be thrown under the bus.”
For more information, please see:
CNN – Merkel Changes Tune on German Refugee Cap – 9 October 2017
The Guardian – Germany: Merkel Agrees to 200,000 Refugees Cap in Bid to Build Coalition – 9 October 2017
The New York Times – Germany’s Angela Merkel Agrees to Limits on Accepting Refugees – 9 October 2017