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27 Sep, 2023 15:58

Germany beefs up border controls with EU neighbors

Berlin claims to be cracking down on illegal immigration after police raids turned up over 100 Syrian nationals
Germany beefs up border controls with EU neighbors

Germany is stepping up police patrols on its borders with fellow EU members Poland and the Czech Republic, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser revealed on Wednesday. The changes, set to take effect immediately, are said to be aimed at preventing further illegal migration into the country. 

We must stop the cruel business of smugglers who put human lives at risk for maximum profit,” Faeser declared, explaining that about a quarter of the migrants who enter Germany do so with the help of smugglers, paying thousands of dollars to cross via the Mediterranean Sea or over land through Balkan forests. 

 “We want to prevent evasive movements by smugglers through flexible and mobile checks at changing locations,” she continued, noting that the increase in manpower would be concentrated on “smuggling routes” along the borders in question. She did not say how many additional officials would be deployed to the area, though the new patrols will augment existing mobile police checks on border-crossers who arrive by car or by foot. 

However, Faeser said that no fixed border checks – which Berlin would have to disclose to the European Commission – will be established. Germany has had such checkpoints on its border with Austria since 2015. 

Finance Minister Christian Lindner promised to support the newly-fortified borders with an increase of 500 customs officers in a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday, noting that the changes were meant “to stop smuggling and illegal migration.” 

The announcement came just a day after German police raided apartments allegedly connected to a smuggling ring, turning up over 100 Syrian citizens. 

Germany has scrambled to accommodate wave after wave of migrants, with 220,000 people applying for asylum just between January and August of this year. While the figure by the end of the year is expected to exceed 2022’s total of 240,000 asylum applicants, Germany has also absorbed over a million Ukrainians fleeing the conflict in their own homeland since last year, more than any other EU country except Poland.  

More than two-thirds of those Ukrainians told German government pollsters in December that they wanted to stay, at least until the fighting was over, with just 2% stating they wanted to leave Germany within the year even as they demanded more government support.  

German cities and towns are reportedly straining to accommodate all the new arrivals, with a major housing shortage underway as construction of promised units collapsed after the European Central Bank hiked interest rates to fight inflation. 

Poland threatened to increase checks on the German border earlier this week after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz cited the visas-for-cash scandal unfolding in Warsaw in his initial proposal to tighten border security with Germany's neighbor.