Immigration Disaster Looms in Germany
Milton Friedman once said open borders and the welfare state are incompatible. This is easy to prove in California, where, according to a recent essay by Victor Davis Hanson, half of all immigrant households are on welfare and the state accounts for a third of the nation's welfare recipients with only 12% of its population, even as 20% of California's population lives below the poverty line. Recent figures published in Europe's economic powerhouse, Germany, indicate that following Angela Merkel's disastrous open-borders experiment of two and a half years ago, that country is well on its way to joining California in proving the wisdom of Friedman's admonition, to the huge detriment of the German people.
Official figures of the German statistical office show that beginning in 2015, Germany accepted 1.4 million asylum applications. According to detailed figures from 2016, 71.4% were granted asylum or "subsidiary" protected status, while 28.6% were rejected. Being rejected, however, did not at all mean that you had to leave Germany or were in danger of being deported. Most of those rejected filed an appeal (64,251 in 2016), and 31.7% of those received a negative decision. Even then, few of those rejected left voluntarily, and even fewer were deported. According to the daily Die Welt, citing government figures, most of the migrants remain in Germany, regardless of the asylum decision.
Because very few of the refugees would qualify as persecuted for their political or religious beliefs, the traditional reasons for claiming refugee status, under Merkel, the German government has de facto created a right to better life for migrants from poor countries, which means that the economic incentives to migration remain extremely powerful. Indeed, nobody in Germany has any illusions about this. The difference between the nominally conservative CSU of Bavaria and the pro-immigration social democrats (SPD), for instance, is that the former want to limit immigration to 200,000 per annum, while the latter do not want any limits at all.
In reality, this is a phony debate, because German law allows chain migration, which means that the actual numbers will be dramatically higher in the future, regardless of politicians' grandstanding. The law says a recognized refugee has the right to bring in his spouse and children, while minor migrants, who made 36% of the total in 2016, can also bring their parents and their siblings. Since 2015, 230,000 migrants have had their reunification applications accepted, while another 390,000 refugees from Syria alone will be eligible by the end of 2018, according to the Focus Online weekly of August 29, 2017. On the basis of these figures alone, reunification will bring at least 2.5 million migrants in the next few years. Should the approved minimum of 200,000 migrants per year materialize, which is nearly certain, the yearly addition of mostly Muslim and mostly young migrants would swell to approximately 800,000. This could easily overwhelm a country that has a median age of 47.1 and a fertility rate of 1.47, nearly a third below replacement.
Dismal as these prospects are, of more immediate concern are the huge and clearly unsustainable social and economic costs of the large-scale migration that has already taken place. The mainstream media in Germany are as predictably leftist and pro-immigration as their American counterparts and are notoriously reluctant to report the reality, but the numerous existing think-tanks and institutes make sure that it cannot be hidden for long. Various institutes estimate migrants per capita cost at 2,500 euros per month and twice as much for unaccompanied minors. The total cost per year per million refugees ranges from a low of 30 billion euros by the federal minister of development, Gerd Mueller, to 77 billion euros and more. It's worth noting that even the lowest figure is higher than the 27 billion euros Germany spends on its defense budget and that the actual number of migrants at present is already much closer to 2 million.
Perhaps the most disturbing finding about the new wave of migrants is that contrary to the early sanguine predictions by the left of a new "Wirtschaftswunder" in Germany on account of the migrant labor, the future is anything but rosy. Research has shown that most new migrants have neither much of an education nor any skills. According to the World Bank, only 6% of Syrian refugees have finished high school, and 59% do not have any education. And the Syrians are considerably better off in this respect than migrants from Africa – or Afghanistan, for instance, where 52% of the male migrants are illiterate.
Nor are earlier assimilation efforts with the gastarbeiter of the 1960s and 1970s much of a success. According to a study of the German Institute for Economic Research, most Turks in Germany still live off welfare. They also continue to entertain strong Islamist sympathies after decades of living in Europe. Sixty-three percent of them voted for the Islamist Erdoğan in the recent referendum in Turkey, a percentage considerably higher than that in Turkey proper.
Finally, Chancellor Merkel again threatened Eastern Europe with economic consequences in a speech to the Bundestag on February 22. Follow my disastrous migration policies and take your "fair share" of migrants, she told them, or else. This is the kind of "solidarity" Eastern Europe should have no problem refusing.
AlexAlexiev is chairman of the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.