Germany’s patience with immigrants seems to be running out. As reported by DW, on Monday 30 April, two police cars and their crews were sent to a ‘migrant reception center’ to arrest what the DW calls a ‘refugee’. Because the 23-year-old from Togo had entered Schengen through Italy, he was to be returned to that country. The Togolese stayed in a center in Ellwangen, in the state of Baden-Württemberg. When the police arrived there, the four officers were confronted by about 150 immigrants, who attacked the patrol vehicles, harassed and punched the officers and ordered them to free the man, who was in handcuffs.
Although the four officers were reinforced, police at the scene say there was no time to call additional back-up from other forces. One of the officers said:
“They were very aggressive and ordered us to leave the man (…) behind.“
Police ordered the local security guard to find the key, unlock the Togolese’s handcuffs and let him go. He then fled.
The incident sparked a vehement political debate, with Germany’s newly sworn-in Minister of the Interior, CSU’s Horst Seehofer staging a press conference on Thursday. His statements there were very clear. He called the events
“a slap in the face for law-abiding citizens.“
and called it a “trampling” of the right to hospitality. Meanwhile, the police response was, if not exactly swift, at least thorough. On Thursday morning, hundreds of police officers descended on the center, with 27 asylum-seekers offering resistance, others wounded because they jumped out of windows. Police say 5 asylum-seekers have been arrested on suspicion of theft, or drug-related offences, with 17 more being removed to be housed elsewhere. Starting early in the morning, the operation was still ongoing around noon.
The Social-Democrat SPD, junior-partner in government, supports the police raid. According to SPD vice-faction chairman Sascha Binder the raid is
“a consistent answer that shows, that won’t be played for a fool. It should be clear to everybody: threatening police, attempts at blackmail and obstructing police action will be met with the full force of the law.“
The goal of the action was clear. As Bernard Weber, vice-president of the local police force said at a press-conference:
“We will not allow any law-free zones to be established.“
Ellwangen reverberates through German politics. As the Frankfurter Allgemeine reports, State-politicians demand reforms in asylum policy, as well as in development aid. The Prime Minister of Sachen, Michael Kretschmer (CDU) wants to stop paying aid to countries that do not cooperate with expulsions. He was especially annoyed by the fact that embassies sometimes refuse their country’s nationals the papers they need to be deported.
“We can’t, on the one hand, be paying developmental aid, while on the other hand those countries do not take their people back.“
Kretschmer also wants to stop the practice of giving asylum seekers money. He says this stimulates ‘asylum hopping’.
“It shouldn’t be the case any longer, that people pick the country with the most attractive services, which in many cases means Germany.“
His colleague in Bavaria, Minister of the Interior Joachim Herrmann (CSU), agrees that Germany should use developmental aid as pressure on the countries of origin:
“(…) uncooperative conduct should not be encouraged by developmental aid.“
Herrmann criticises the fact that many of the asylum seekers have been in France, Italy or Austria before coming to Germany, which he calls “gross mismanagement.”
Welt meanwhile, can report that the 23-year-old Togolese was apprehended and is now in detainment awaiting his expulsion. The fact that ‘refugees’ are often motivated by economic motives has also reached the BBC.
“Evans William tells me he sold everything but the kitchen sink to fund his dream of getting to Europe. And I mean everything – his bed, his fridge, his TV, his spare clothes and his mobile phone. After borrowing yet more cash, he finally had enough to pay a smuggling gang to take him from Nigeria across the Sahara to Libya. In all, it cost him £750 ($1,000), but he wasn’t worried. Once in Europe, he figured, he could quickly earn enough to pay off his creditors, and eventually return home to start a business of his own.“
His story continues:
“His mother, he said, had sold her only plot of land to fund his trip to Europe. He hadn’t even told her he was back. ‘If my mum sees me she’ll get sick with worry,’ he said. ‘And all the neighbours, saying, ‘This guy’s mum sold her land so he could go to Europe – and then he failed!’ If I hear anyone saying that, I tell you, I’ll kill them.’“
When asked what he was going to do, Abibu tells the reported he’ll need to get his money back. The EU has programmes in place to help people like Abibu to learn a trade or craft, so they can get back on their feet. They can learn to be a hairdresser, or a farmer. The reporter inquires which of the training opportunities appeal but
“he seemed to have other work in mind. ‘I’ll look at the offers,’ he admitted grudgingly. ‘But I’m worried I’ll end up committing crime to get the money back.’ What sort of crime? ‘Robbery, probably.’ He sounded like he meant it, and I found myself wondering just what Abibu had done to get that scar on his face.“