Angela Merkel feeling pressure from immigration crisis

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(Concordiensis | J.T. Kim)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration has come under increasing pressure in the last couple of months as more and more Germans tire of the endless stream of immigrants flooding Germany.

Although Merkel’s open-door policy — which permitted more than a million North African and Middle Eastern refugees to enter Germany — was seen originally as an admirable and bold strategy, yet it’s becoming ever more unpopular in the country.

As the average German begins to feel the economic and even social strain of housing 1.1 million refugees, Merkel’s poll number have been steadily dropping.

A recent poll by Insa, which surveyed 2,047 Germans, found that 40 percent were thoroughly unsatisfied with her handling of the immigration crisis and wanted her to resign.

Only slightly more people, around 45 percent, thought that her handling of the issue was not a reason for her to leave her position.

Even her own party is beginning to turn against her: 40 members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) recently wrote in a letter to the chancellor: “In light of the developments in recent months, we can no longer speak of a great challenge — we are on the verge of our country being overwhelmed,” according to the AFP.

In the face of increasing social pressure and unrest, party MPs are actively working to distance themselves from her immigration policy.

The tactic seems to be working out, since the CDU’s polling numbers remain steadily ahead of other parties, despite Merkel’s slippage.

Although doubt about her policies has been building for a while, the widespread sexual assaults which occurred in Cologne and other cities over New Year’s Eve sparked the recent rapid slide in support for refugees.

In light of the sexual assaults, many Germans began to feel uneasy with the large numbers of refugees in their society and started to put real pressure on Merkel to alter Germany’s policy.

This pressure finally seems to be paying off as Merkel’s administration shows signs of an about face.

Though Merkel hasn’t said anything about ending the immigration program or beginning large-scale deportation, her administration’s more recent statements and actions point towards an end to her open-door policy.

“We want those with prospects of remaining to be integrated, but we also want to say that we need those who have no prospect of remaining to return,” said the Chancellor at a coalition meeting last Thursday.

The meeting was convened in order to hammer out a deal which would serve as a first step to defining a long-term solution to the immigration issue.

Composed of Merkel’s CDU, the Bavaria-based Christian Social Union, and the Social Democrats form the current coalition government, and all participated in the meeting.

The result was a plan to slow the flow of immigrants by preventing refugees from bringing their families into the country unless they face “immediate personal persecution,” according to the AP.

Moreover, the coalition agreed to declare Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia as safe countries of origin, which will allow Germany to expedite deportations to these countries.

Although a far cry from the mass deportation advocated by a growing right-wing population, it’s certainly a step away from the unpopular open-door policy and towards a more permanent solution.

Whether Merkel and her party will find a solution good enough to save their majority, remains to be seen.

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