According to the Federal Statistical Office, 84.3 million people lived in Germany at the end of last year. War refugees from Ukraine in particular caused net immigration to rise to more than a million. In addition, there are increasing numbers of asylum seekers from other countries - many municipalities are facing major challenges.
"Is Germany at its breaking point?" moderator Louis Klamroth asked politicians Jens Spahn (CDU), Britta Haßelmann (Greens) and Tanja Schweiger (Free Voters) as well as the "Weltspiegel" moderator Isabel Schayani and Tareq on "hard but fair". Alaows, Greens member and refugee policy spokesman for 'Pro Asyl'.
Klamroth started the discussion with the example of the city of Lörrach in Baden-Württemberg, where around 40 tenants had their apartments evicted because the city wanted to create space for around 100 refugees. Schayani described it as "disproportionate" to single out the district town of Baden, even though there are "many heroes on the municipal front" who would solve their problems constructively. Sometimes it goes "just wrong".
Britta Haßelmann also spoke of a "communication problem". The city is hitting the tenants "of course in front of the head". However, people would be offered other apartments “in good condition”.
Jens Spahn, on the other hand, said Lörrach is an example of how very close the cities and communities are to the limit. The situation is "many times more tense today" than it was in 2015 and 2016, affirmed Tanja Schweiger. Instead of occupying exhibition halls or gyms, the Regensburg district administrator chartered a boat on the Danube to accommodate up to 200 refugees.
They spend "only a very, very short time" there until a decision is made as to whether there is a "high perspective of staying". It relieves the city's facilities, which have been at their limit since the summer, according to Schweiger. Spahn praised the model as "very creative, very responsible".
Tareq Alaows himself fled to Germany in 2015. At that time he had to decide whether to die in his home country of Syria or to take the risk of walking 45 days to Germany, as he reported. Against this background, he finds it "insulting" to pretend that he made this decision "with a glass of wine in the evening".
The spokesman for 'Pro Asyl' wanted to know from Jens Spahn where he draws the line as to who is allowed to come into the country. States have a responsibility to enable escape, the CDU politician then explained. There is the right to flee, but there is "not the right - as hard as that is - to choose the country to which one flees".
He wished that 'Pro Asyl' would recognize "rule of law procedures", complained Spahn after Alaows had repeatedly dodged the question of whether people without a right to stay had to leave Germany. "We will not be able to solve all the problems if everyone makes their way to Europe," says Spahn. The CDU member of the Bundestag emphasized that the "key" ultimately "does not lie in more deportations". "We have to get these numbers down at the EU's external border"
Haßelmann also called for international efforts such as the lack of "migration agreements" and common European solutions to the asylum issue. Europe has a "shameful side" in that it is unable to "create legal channels" for refugees. Therefore people would put themselves in danger.
All too often the discussion on Monday evening got lost in the small-small. Whether creative or overwhelmed municipalities, asylum seekers who were rightly or wrongly deported, positive or negative examples of integration - each guest in the group came up with a suitable individual case, depending on their focus.
In addition, the emotional topic repeatedly led to heated arguments that moderator Klamroth tried to settle. The round ended with just as fundamentally different positions as it had started.
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