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Will Germany Change its Constitution Because of the Migrant Crisis?

In comments, HansHansen says: " I doubt that, with such high numbers of refugees, the policy of letting people stay beyond their welcome will hold."

I also tend to think that Germany is going to change its laws to try to more effectively get rid of the fake Syrians. But that's going to be only the start of a very long story. Asylum groups and/or Green party lawmakers will certainly challenge any changes, and those challenges will have to work their way through the legal system. While that happens, the changes will almost certainly be put on hold.

And there is no guarantee German courts will approve changes. Even though the new version of German asylum law (Art. 16a of the Basic Law) gives the legislator a lot of flexibility, a German court could well decide that the requirement of due process or the protection of human dignity renders some part of the new law invalid.

This means that the surest way to actually change German asylum law is to amend the Basic Law, which requires a 2/3 majority of both legislative houses. That's not impossible, but it's no picnic. The last change in 1993 was the result of the so-called 'asylum compromise', one of the most brutal political debates in post-war German history.


Integration Failure: Imam Refuses to Touch Extremely Good-Looking German Woman

Julia-Klöckner

During a visit to a migrant shelter, a German Imam refused to shake hands with this German politician, Julia Klöckner, because she's a woman.

This raises myriad sensitive and complex issues of equal rights and cultural integration, such as: "Dude, can this majestic Nordic MILF get any hotter?!", and "WTF Abdul, are you freakin' blind?" 


Solving the Demographic Crisis the Wrong Way

Some argue that the current influx of a million refugees a year is a blessing for Germany because it will solve Germany's demographic crisis: low birth rate equals not enough young workers to support retiring oldsters.

Germany indeed does have a bit of an age imbalance, although views differ on how problematic that is. Germany has tried to increase the birth rates of ethnic Germans, without much luck.

So immigration will have to be the answer. Now you have a choice. You could either:

1.    Open your borders during one summer and permit an influx of 1 million random strangers from faraway lands with wildly differing education levels, chosen according to the principle of whoever can travel and bribe a smuggler gets in, everyone else is out of luck;

or

2.    Adopt a policy of allowing legal, regulated, controlled immigration of 100,000 young people per year, priority to those with language skills and education and a proven track record of integrating well into different cultures (hint: Chinese, Vietnamese, Indians, Koreans), while screening out security risks. Once the demographic imbalance is corrected, reduce the numbers.

Which approach seems more likely to succeed?


Migrants Reject Finland as Too Cold and Boring

Agence France Presse reports from the Finland/Sweden border: 

Hundreds of predominantly Iraqi migrants who have travelled through Europe to reach Finland are turning back, saying they don't want to stay in the sparsely-populated country on Europe's northern frontier because it's too cold and boring.

Migrants have in recent weeks been crossing back into Sweden at the Haparanda-Tornio border just an hour's drive south of the Arctic Circle, and Finnish authorities have seen a rise in the number of cancelled asylum applications.

"You can tell the world I hate Finland. It's too cold, there's no tea, no restaurants, no bars, nobody on the streets, only cars," 22-year-old Muhammed told AFP in Tornio, as the mercury struggled to inch above 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) on a recent blustery grey day.
 
"Finland is no good," the men echoed each other. Sweden may be just as cold as Finland, but Sweden has bigger immigrant communities because of a longer history of integration.

A few comments:

-- More accurately, Sweden has a 'longer history' of admitting immigrants. Nobody who's paying attention thinks Sweden has 'integrated' more than a fraction of its immigrants, who are much more likely than Swedes to commit crimes, live on welfare, and be unemployed.

-- Note how after quoting the Iraqi men complaining about the weather and the street life, the reporter cites incidents of anti-immigrant protests and violence in Finland. She wants to suggest that they may be a reason the Iraqis want to leave, but apparently can't find an Iraqi who actually says this.

-- Why would you travel 5000 kilometers to an arctic-circle straddling country that is one of the most sparsely-populated on the planet and then complain about it being 'cold' and 'boring'? I thought they were all supposed to have smartphones and be ultra-internet savvy.

-- Iraq faces a geographically-limited insurgency but is not at war, and has in fact taken in refugees from Syria.

-- Can you begin to see why the vaunted European-relocation program is a dead letter? The only way you'll get migrants to stay in the 'cold, boring' places you put them is with fences or ankle monitors, and I doubt Europe's going to go for that.

-- Note how instead of calling every migrant a 'refugee', as the German press does, this reporter for AFP follows the vast majority of worldwide news sources in accurately and responsibly calling these men 'migrants'. Calling every migrant a 'refugee' is like calling every man a 'husband' and every woman a 'wife'. 

Let's have a look at the law on refugees. According to the leading international treaty on refugees, the 1951 UN Refugee Convention (which you can read in a variety of languages here), a refugee is a person who cannot return to his or her home country because of a fear of persecution. The background to refugee law is this: Every sovereign nation is entitled to determine who comes into its country and who doesn't. In fact, that very power is one of the fundamental elements of sovereignty.

If you are a refugee, and only if you are a refugee, you can compel another country to provide safe haven to you. That country must set aside its normal criteria for accepting immigrants and permit you to live there. It cannot send you back to the country if you would face persecution there. In the country of refuge, you are entitled to be treated the same way as normal immigrants who were invited. Once conditions improve in your country, or the source of persecution ceases to exist, the country of refuge may send you back, but is not required to do so.

Note that under this treaty, a person who is migrating from one country to another in search of better opportunities is not a refugee. That person is an economic migrant, and has no right to compel another country to take him or her in. Note also that refugees do not have a right to choose their country of refuge. People who traipse all over Europe, picking and choosing which country has the highest welfare benefits, the best job opportunities, the nicest people, and the best weather are not refugees. They are migrants. Any particular European country may choose to accommodate these people if it wishes, but is also completely within its rights to exclude or deport them.


Let (Limited Numbers of) Refugees Fly to Europe (After Screening)

Alexander Betts, director of the Refugee Studies Center at Oxford University, says refugees should be allowed to fly to Europe. Unlike some German commentators, he also recognizes the need for security checks and limits on refugee numbers. Here are his recommendations

Visas could be offered unilaterally by countries that have agreed to accept refugees. Indeed, Brazil has already done this by announcing its willingness to provide humanitarian visas, so far taking over 2,000 Syrian refugees through the scheme, all of whom were recognized as refugees upon arrival. Germany and Sweden, which have pledged to take an even greater number, could do the same, and provide screening and visas at strategically located consular outposts.

The idea of refugee travel documents has an historical precedent: the Nansen Passports used by the League of Nations. Following World War I, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the consequences of the Russian Revolution made hundreds of thousands of people stateless and brought refugees to Europe’s borders.

In 1922 the first High Commissioner for Refugees of the League of Nations, Fridjtof Nansen, convened a conference in Geneva at which a group of countries agreed to recognize Nansen passports as legitimate refugee travel documents. Between 1922 and 1942, the scheme was recognized by over 50 countries and enabled 450,000 people, including Assyrian, Armenian and Turkish refugees, safe passage to Europe. In recognition of its work the Nansen International Refugee Office received the Nobel Peace Prize.

There are challenges to issuing refugee travel documents today, but they are surmountable. Governments will understandably worry that allowing legal entry is likely to lead to a “pull factor” and increase the demand to move to Europe. This risk can be addressed in several ways.

First, establishing consular points near Europe’s external border would cater mainly to people who are already almost in the European Union and about to risk a dangerous boat journey. Second, visas would only be given to likely refugees, to whom we already have an internationally recognized legal obligation. Third, while it is possible that more Syrian refugees would choose to seek admission to Europe rather than remain in neighboring countries, a slight increase in numbers is a worthwhile price to pay if it saves lives, cuts costs, alleviates pressure at Europe’s borders and drastically curtails the human-smuggling market.


Snapshots from the Migrant Crisis

Here's a selection of my short summaries of the stories on the "Refugee Crisis" live-blog of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany's leading center-right broadsheet, with my comments:

13:19: Migrants end hunger strike in Nuremburg, migrants in Griebo near Wittenberg begin hunger strike, demanding to be housed in apartments instead of a multifunction hall

13:07: Psychology professor Jürgen Hoyer says it’s no surprise so much violence in refugee shelters, many people of different backgrounds packed together

This is why Germany will start seizing private commercial and residential property in a desperate rush to get migrants into apartments where the risk of violence is lower. 

12:41: Federal government estimates 30% of those claiming to be Syrian when they arrive in Germany are lying.

12:28: Middle East Director of UNHCR says 8,000 people coming to Europe each day, no sign of decrease, and that these are ‘tip of the iceberg.'

As I've mentioned before in comments, I see no reason why migrant stream will reduce during winter, because (1) 80% of the journey will be in countries with mild winters; (2) by the time they get to the cold places there will be volunteers and trains: (3) migrants know they have a rapidly-closing time window, it's now or never.

12:16 Poll of 213 Dutch local governments reveals 80% have no place for migrants, 25% anticipate resistance from local citizens esp. based on fear of competition for subsidized housing, only 17% say they have sufficient resources to integrate refugees.

12:11 On German national TV, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said opening Germany’s borders (Merkel’s decision) led to situation going ‘out of control’

This is pretty amazing. Last night on a political talk-show watched by millions of Germans, the Interior Minister of Germany said the migrant situation was 'out of control'. The Interior Minister. And blamed it on a decision by Merkel, his close political ally & friend (though he didn't name her). You know what Germans don't like? Things that are out of control.

11:56: Knife-fight among 20 young men in shelter in Chemnitz, 2 young Tunisian men and 2 young Albanian men in hospital.

With thousands of new (presumably) genuine Syrian war refugees arriving every day, what are Tunisians and Albanians still doing here taking up precious shelter space and participating in gang knife-fights?

11:55: In an 1800-person shelted in Leipzig conference center there was a mass confrontation between 100-200 Syrians and Afghans, required ‘mass intervention’ of police to bring situation under control.

How long before the first murder in a migrant shelter? Weeks would be my guess. Rapes are already commonplace in some shelters, although nobody seems to care about that.

11:51: In Finland, gang dressed as KKK members pelt incoming migrant bus with stones and fireworks.

11:22 Sticks and metal rods converted to weapons found in Donaueschingen shelter after 400 refugees protested against planned relocation.

10:54: Majority of Germany continues to believe migrants can be accommodated, but majority shrank over last 2 weeks from 62 to 57 percent. Number who say it can’t be done rose from 35 to 40%.

I think we're going to see that trend continue.


A Lebanese Rapist Among the Refugees

As a train with 500 Syrian refugees arrived from Austria in the German town of Freilassing, the German police carried out an identity check (g). They found someone with fake Syrian papers, and did a little more investigation. After taking his fingerprints and comparing them, it turned out this Syrian was actually a Lebanese national living in Dortmund. He had been convicted of rape and robbery but escaped sentencing. He was then sent to prison for 777 days.

This is fascinating. I wonder how many other German criminals of Middle Eastern extraction have thought of this? Just travel legally to Austria, mix yourself in with the migrants, and claim to be a Syrian refugee. If all goes well, you will be set up with a brand-new identity, and eventually a free apartment, job training, German courses, the whole works. It's kind of like a whole new chance at integration, which obviously didn't turn out so well the first time.

This guy made two mistakes. First of all, it's quite easy to permanently alter your fingerprints. Second problem was buying fake Syrian papers (current price €750). He should probably claim to have lost all his papers. This would hardly be suspicious, since about 3/4 of current migrants claim this happened. Also, he didn't necessarily have to claim he was Syrian. As we have seen from the case of Reem, the Palestinian teenager who cried on television during an interview with Angela Merkel, the status of being a Palestinian living in a refugee camp in Lebanon can also be parlayed into permanent residency in Germany, although usually not on grounds of political asylum.

Now, another question would be: why wasn't this Lebanese national deported? Refugees are bound by the 1951 Convention and all national laws to obey the laws of the countries giving them shelter. But, of course, reality is more complex. Many attempts to deport violent criminals back to their home countries fail because their home countries refuse to issue the necessary acceptance and travel paperwork. So Lebanon is probably going to say: "Import a known violent criminal into our country? No thanks. He's your problem now."

This should serve as a useful reminder of the most important fact about the current refugee crisis: no matter who Germany lets in -- and the very latest numbers are that Germany has let in 135,000 (g) migrants so far in September alone -- you are stuck with them forever. Whether they're a deserving refugee or a Pakistani computer programmer or a violent Algerian drug dealer or a Lebanese convicted rapist, the chances of Germany ever successfully deporting them against their will are maybe 5-10%, if that much.

This is why most countries which have a choice select and screen for genuine refugees in need, instead of allowing hundreds of thousands of random strangers to pour across their borders, and only then finding out later they're stuck with hundreds of thousands of people who aren't refugees.


The New European Refugee Plan Is Meaningless

The EU just had a brutal, chaotic session in which it violated the principle of consensus and forced through a plan for relocating 120,000 migrants on the basis of a majority vote. Tempers flared, and Eastern European states have been howling with outrage.

And the plan is, of course, completely meaningless. More migrants have entered Germany so far this month than the plan would resettle over two years. And there is nothing to keep migrants where they're put. Meanwhile, they continue to stream uncontrolled and unmonitored over Europe's external borders. As the New York Times reports

“The current chaos on our external borders must end,” Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, the body that called European leaders together to try to end their quarreling, said early Thursday. Warning that Europe could face millions of people seeking to enter its borders, he said “it is clear that the greatest tide of refugees and migrants is yet to come” and called for an end to “policies of open doors and windows.”

Meanwhile, Europe’s newly approved relocation plan will take two years to put in place, and even if unwilling members of the European Union take in a share of refugees, there is little that will keep the refugees from moving where they want to go.

...

Saddled with an economic crisis and a dysfunctional state apparatus, the Greek authorities are so eager to move the migrants on that they now arrange special ferries for them from outlying islands and provide buses to take them from Piraeus port to the nearest railway station.

“I am going to Germany where I can find work,” Saied Abdirisak, an Iranian computer technician, said after disembarking from a ferry from Lesbos, which he had reached by dinghy from Turkey, a short trip that cost him 1,300 euros (about $1,450).

...

By midmorning, Mr. Abdirisak was already on the train from Piraeus to Athens with a group of fellow Iranians and planned to get the first train from there north toward Macedonia, which more than 4,000 migrants now reach each day.

Left behind in the rush were a heap of European rules and regulations that require all new arrivals to make an application for asylum in the country where they first land and to stay put until their request has been processed.

“There is no real system. We don’t know who all these people are,” said Rocco Gianluca, Western Balkans coordinator for the International Organization for Migration.

...

One way Europe has tried to manage the flow is through registration and fingerprinting of all those who arrive claiming asylum. But this system, too, has broken down.

The official Greek document issued to Mr. Abdirisak in Lesbos bore a stamp saying he had been fingerprinted. But he said he was not too worried because his prints had been taken on paper, not electronically.

That almost certainly means that his fingerprints have not been entered in the shared database, Eurodac, which is designed to keep track of migrants and make it possible to enforce European rules that restrict the initial movement of asylum seekers.

Part of the problem is that Greece is sorely short of the expensive equipment needed to enter migrants’ fingerprints and other data into Eurodac.


AMA with a Syrian Refugee in Germany

A Syrian refugee living in Germany did an AMA recently, and the result was fascinating. He's a young man who ran a successful Internet cafe and left because of threatened conscription. He's gotten asylum and has been in Germany 9 months, learning German.

I've pasted a few of the exchanges I found the most interesting. Reformatted them hastily, since I find reddit's format a bit hard to follow.

First, my favorite exchange of all: 

thegingerduck: How did you learn English? Did you learn while in Syria?

StraightOuttaSyria: Movies, TV-shows, books, music, youtube, internet in general.

thegingerduck: Are you doing the same for german?

StraightOuttaSyria: Yup, the radio and tv are always on, discovered some great German bands and singers, can't read books now but will asap.

OgGorrilaKing: It's Rammstein isn't it? You've been listening to Rammstein.

StraightOuttaSyria: I've been listening to them even before coming to Germany :D

Arntown: Yeah, and for advanced learning try Herbert Grönemeyer. If you can understand him, you're better than 50% of the Germans :D

Asked what the biggest culture shocks were:

  • Public drinking
  • Relationships ( female - male )
  • General acceptance for LGBT
  • Sex-Ed in school? Good luck with that
  • Shared Showers

What does he think of Western airstrikes against ISIS? "It's awesome, like really it's the best thing that happened since the start of the revolution and civil war in Syria."

What it's like to live in ISIS-run areas:

Great question.

They have very strict rules you need to follow, but generally they try to keep the population under their control "comfortable", because they wouldn't be able to fight an inside war and expand their "Caliphate" too, actually, the regions under ISIS control are the regions with the most access to water and electricity in Syria.

so yeah, so many rules, very strict rules, but if you follow you'll live ok.

Another question has to do with the image of Europe:

There are rumors about refugees being fed obvious lies about the welfare system in Germany: Things like getting top notch housing, a car and a well paid job upon arrival. What do you think of it?

Answer: SO MUCH LIES. they all think of Europe as a paradise on Earth, these lies are fed very much through the smugglers who try to convince you to go to Europe, as I suggested in another comment, I think the Europe should build a website putting every decision and news related to the refugees in it so they can get an authentic source of news and know who it is in Europe.

Good Syrian dishes: 

In the years to come I expect we will see Syrian restaurants and take-aways appear in the EU. What are good / unique dishes we can look forward to? Any good vegetarian dishes?

Answer: Look for "Fatte" "فتة", it's great

On how the EU should manage the crisis: 

What are your thoughts About how the EU should manage the refugee crisis? Glad you made it welcome to germany.

StraightOuttaSyria: Obviously I'm happy many people can get a chance for a better life. But the way it happens now is wrong, mass numbers will hurt the people before the host countries, and eventually will lead to more troubles. There are many way they can help the people and get everything under control, as I've said couple of times, get them legal status in Turkey, then sort the people who need to get to Europe, and pick them from the camps. These are some of the simplest ways.

And on ISIS infiltrators:

Do you believe that ISIS terrorists are disguising themselves as refugees to get into Europe and the US?

StraightOuttaSyria: It's a quite big possibility, but hopefully the authorities run a good background check before granting anyone asylum.

redditor401: No offence to you, but judging by the way you got in, I don't think that's really happening, lol.


Phase IV of the Migrant Crisis: Property Seizures

Germany's shelters and hostels are already full. Yet Germany is going to get another half-million migrants this year. And Germany does not want people living in tents.

What this means is that Germany will somehow need to obtain some kind of brick-and-mortar living space for half-a-million people right away.

The tiny city of Nieheim, population 6,400, is paving the way. It's required (g) to take in 71 refugees, and doesn't have the space. So, as stern reports, it has just cancelled the leases of people living in its city-owned apartments to make room for migrants. One of those affected is a 51-year-old woman who's lived in her apartment for 16 years. Nieheim says it has no choice: all the spaces in city shelters are already taken, and other buildings standing empty aren't suited for family habitation.

Hamburg is now planning (g) to seize privately-owned commercial buildings by the right of eminent domain to convert them into dwellings for migrants. It promises to pay owners fair compensation, whatever that may be.

People don't like it when the government takes their property away, even if it does pay them something which it calls 'fair market value'. There is no better way to feed resentment against migrants than taking the property of German citizens away and giving it to them.

A Facebook page about the city of Nieheim deleted a blog entry about the cancellation of tenant's leases after it developed into a brutal 200-comment shitstorm of mutual insults.