Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced a new focus on addressing illegal migration, saying that the country needs to deport more and faster those who have no right to stay. His statement comes amid rising numbers of irregular migrants and refugees, especially from some west African countries and Ukraine, where a war with Russia has displaced millions of people.
Scholz, who leads a three-party coalition of Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats, has faced criticism from the opposition and the public for his handling of the migration issue. His coalition suffered losses in two recent state elections, while the far-right Alternative for Germany gained ground.
On Wednesday, October 25, Scholz introduced a bill to ease deportations of rejected asylum-seekers, giving more powers to the authorities to enforce repatriations, especially of criminals and people smugglers. The bill also provides for more border controls and detention facilities.
Scholz told the weekly Der Spiegel that he wants to deport “on a large scale” those who have no right to stay in Germany, adding that “we must have the strength to tell people that unfortunately, they cannot stay here.” He said that this was necessary to protect the fundamental right to asylum and to maintain social support for the reception of refugees in Germany.
Scholz’s tough stance on migration has been met with skepticism by some of his coalition partners, who have advocated for a more humane and welcoming approach. The Greens have called for more legal pathways for migration and integration, while the Free Democrats have stressed the economic benefits of skilled immigration.
Meanwhile, the opposition leader Friedrich Merz from the conservative Union bloc has urged Scholz to form a “government of national common sense” with his party to deal with the migration crisis. He said that the current coalition was too divided and ineffective on this matter.
In September of this year, Germany saw an influx of over 20,000 irregular migrants, marking the highest figure since February 2016. Prominent government officials, including the President of Germany, have voiced concerns about the country’s capacity to accommodate and successfully integrate these migrants into German society. Furthermore, a recent nationwide survey conducted in Germany underlined the public sentiment that migrants are perceived to bring more disadvantages than advantages to the country, and there is a growing call for a reduction in their numbers.
Germany has taken in over a million people seeking protection since 2015, when it opened its borders to refugees fleeing war and persecution in Syria and other countries. It has also received more than a million Ukrainians since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and started a war in eastern Ukraine. Germany is one of the main supporters of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The German Chancellor is set to embark on a diplomatic mission to two African nations, specifically Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria and Accra in Ghana. During this visit, the Chancellor will engage in discussions with the Presidents of Ghana and Nigeria, as well as the Commissioner of the ECOWAS Commission. The visit aims to address issues related to migration, regional stability and other vital matters.
According to Gee Queue, Founder and Chairman of the GH Support Association in Germany, 60,000 Ghanaians could be impacted by this initiative. The organization is actively involved in helping individuals secure accommodation, insurance and offering assistance to those facing language barriers when dealing with foreign office matters.
Kwaku Yeboa, the Component Manager at the Ghanaian European Center for Jobs, Migration, and Development, expressed that the immigration policy is expected to strike a balance, acknowledging that all policies come with both positive and negative aspects. He emphasized that there are specific elements within the policy designed to benefit the country.
Working under the commission of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation, their key focus is on facilitating regular migration, particularly for those with technical and vocational education and training (TVET) backgrounds and tertiary education. This approach aims to provide opportunities for Ghanaians to find employment, not only within Ghana but also abroad, including in Germany.
The Ghanaian European Center for Jobs, Migration and Development also provides one-year accommodation and assistance in launching businesses to aid in the successful reintegration of returning Ghanaians, whether they are voluntary returnees or individuals compelled to return due to legal reasons. These initiatives are often funded by the German government.
In an interview on Joy News, Yeboa noted that a significant number of young people aspire to travel abroad, so they provide counseling to guide them toward legal migration channels, discouraging irregular methods that pose various dangers. The center, working under GIZ Ghana, conducts career and information sessions in schools and communities. Additionally, they support capacity building for state institutions, collaborating with the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations and the Labor Department to offer information to individuals aspiring to travel abroad.