German chancellor’s open-door migrant policy draws fire at home and abroad
The aftershocks spreading from allegations of New Year’s Eve assaults by migrants in German cities have provoked the biggest challenge to Chancellor Angela Merkel since she threw open Germany’s borders to refugees last summer.
On Sunday, German officials disclosed that the man French authorities say tried to attack a Paris police station in an Islamic State-inspired assault last week had been living at a German refugee shelter—adding more fuel to a debate that has exploded over the security threats tied to the arrival of more than 1 million asylum seekers in Germany over the past year.
Meanwhile, a growing number of people, largely women, have reported being robbed and sexually assaulted on New Year’s Eve by mobs of what many described as largely North African or Arab-looking men. In Cologne, where most of the assaults have been reported, police said 516 complaints had been filed by Sunday—40% of them for sexual offenses, including at least two rape allegations—and that many of the suspected attackers were migrants.
The assaults and fresh evidence of other security risks linked to migrants bring new difficulties to Ms. Merkel’s efforts to preserve her open-door refugee policy and get other European Union countries to agree on a common response to the migration crisis. The chancellor—Western Europe’s most influential political leader—has warned that without a united strategy, the EU’s cherished principle of open internal borders will fall.
At home and abroad, politicians skeptical of Ms. Merkel’s migrant policy pointed to the assaults as a turning point, casting the events as confirmation of their warnings of a violent culture clash resulting from the mass migration.
|Conservative Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo|
Conservative Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said the incidents “should shake up public opinion at last.” UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who advocates much stricter immigration policies and wants his country to leave the European Union, warned the events in Cologne were “not far removed from us” in Britain, adding, “Whilst these men may not have EU passports, they soon will.”
The German chancellor reacted to the public outrage over the assaults with what has become her trademark strategy after 10 years in power: She sought to channel the public mood without substantially changing course.
She used tough language after a meeting of senior party officials on Saturday, pledging to more aggressively deport migrants convicted of crimes. But she gave no indication that she would back away from her refusal to cap the number of refugees Germany accepts or from her insistence that Europe come up with a joint solution to the crisis.Read the rest of the story HERE.
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