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Merkel Under Pressure After Migrant Influx

  • Henry Ridgwell

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing mounting political pressure over the number of migrants arriving in her country — with regional authorities demanding that Berlin provide more resources to cope with the crisis.

More than 1.1 million migrants are being resettled across Germany. At a meeting Thursday with Chancellor Merkel, the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states demanded a doubling of financial aid and support for housing and schools. Hannelore Kraft is president of the North Rhine-Westphalia region.

"I and other regional leaders cannot see any great progress against the mountain of asylum applications, which continues to grow," said Kraft. "German citizens are worried, partly because we don’t really know who is here."

On Thursday, Chancellor Merkel struck a deal with her governing coalition partners that would facilitate deportations and restrict the rights of migrants to bring their families to Germany.

"The government wants those with the prospect of remaining to be integrated, but those who have no prospect of remaining should return," said Merkel.

Germany anticipates the migrant influx could cost the state an extra $3.7 billion in extra social benefits during 2016. It’s hoped German language classes will speed the migrants' entry into the labor market and cut the benefits bill.

It’s uncertain there’ll be enough jobs, says the head of integration for the Berlin regional senate, Andreas Germershausen.

“There is some capacity that can be absorbed," said Germershausen. "There is also a need for specific fields of the labor market. However, on the lower end of the labor market, there is, of course, the danger of competition."

German lawmakers fear a second wave of migrants as family members attempt to join those already in Germany. Figures from the United Nations show a sharp increase in the number of women and children arriving on Europe’s shores in 2016.

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