World

Angela Merkel Rejects Refugee Limits For Germany

| by Sarah Zimmerman
German Chancellor Angela MerkelGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected calls for capping the number of refugees allowed into the country, a position that could hurt her chances in the September federal elections. 

In 2015, Merkel opened Germany's borders to refugees fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 1 million migrants entered the country, putting strain on the country's resources, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Many residents worry that refugees will take low-paying jobs away from German citizens and possibly change the country's Christian culture.

"From a moral point of view, Merkel may have done Germany a great service, but she has rubbed a lot of people here and across Europe the wrong way by forging ahead on her own by taking in so many refugees without a real plan," said Hans Vorlaender, political scientist at Dresden’s Technical University. 

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In a July 16 interview, Merkel indicated she doesn't plan to place limits on refugees in the foreseeable future.

"As far as an upper limit [on refugees] is concerned, my position is clear: I will not accept it," she said, according to Deutsche Welle. She instead hopes to reduce refugee numbers through regulations and other actions to ensure that people don't need to flee their country in the first place.

Merkel, who leads the country's Christian Democratic Union party, is distancing herself from political allies within her own country. Horst Seehofer, who heads the CDU's sister party Christian Social Union, has threatened to refuse to enter a coalition with Merkel unless she ensures an annual upper limit. 

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According to CNN, Merkel will need the CSU's support if she hopes to be reelected in September. 

Germany's border policy is a hot-button topic for the country's election, with nearly one-half of voters saying that it's the most important issue for them.

In a survey conducted in 2016, 47 percent of participants were in favor of a limit on the number of refugees allowed into the country. Many frustrated citizens took to social media to urge their fellow citizens to vote against Merkel. 

"Whoever votes for the CDU with Merkel is supporting further flooding of Germany," one Twitter user wrote. 

But others, including director for European affairs at Pro Asyl Karl Kopp, agree with Merkel, saying that a cap would be worthless. 

"We're losing a lot of time and energy talking about a quota that is not in line with international law," he said. Instead, Kopp says the refugee crisis should be addressed with "a new common European rescue approach" that focuses on "legal, safe ways for refugees to come to Europe."

Nonetheless, the future of Germany's open-border policy remains unclear, especially as Merkel grows more unpopular with her fellow conservatives. 

"The numbers of doubters in her own party are growing by the day, and it’s possible that roughly half the conservative members in Parliament don’t want to follow her on this path anymore," Gero Neugebauer, a political scientist at Berlin’s Free University, told the Los Angeles Times.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, Deutsche Welle, CNN / Photo credit: Christliches Medienmagazin pro/Flickr, Trocaire/FlickrEuropean People's Party/Flickr

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