Merkel to throw more money at immigrants

On May 8, German leaders will hold their own talks in Berlin to channel money and assistance to mayors in carrying out the federal mandate for each of Germany’s 16 states to take their share of migrants, and figure out how to make room for them.

“Wealthy Germany can afford to help,” said Volker Herzog, the mayor of Vorra. The local pastor, the Rev. Björn Schukat, said that instead, there was a tendency among the authorities higher up the chain to simply announce that, for example, a dozen refugees are arriving — “and now you get on with it.”

Behind the worries is a government policy that calls on the 82 million people of Europe’s biggest economy to be generous. The federal and state authorities apportion the quotas and, increasingly, pay to renovate or rent apartments before sending the people to localities.

Some maintain that Germany’s current wealth and Nazi past impose an obligation to accommodate immigrants. But the costs are being felt as social workers grapple with overcrowded reception centers and officials scramble to house asylum seekers.

In the region, known as central Franconia, there are three social workers for a current allocation of 1,000 migrants. It could use 10, said Pastor Schukat in Vorra.

It was only last December that the federal authorities allocated an extra billion euros to the states and smaller communities to care for refugees this year and next. Just three weeks ago, Berlin was rebuffing calls for more. Now, more money is expected to flow from federal coffers after Ms. Merkel gathers with officials and politicians on May 8.

In 2014, some 627,000 people applied for asylum in a European Union country, including 203,000 in Germany. That was more than anywhere else in the bloc, but proportionally, Germany ranked No. 8, with 2.5 asylum applicants per 1,000 inhabitants, compared with 8.4 per thousand in Sweden.

In a recent German poll, more than half the respondents said they thought there was strong hostility to foreigners in the country.

The concern that Germany is inhospitable was also expressed this winter in pro-immigration demonstrations held nationwide to counter swelling anti-immigration marches, above all in Dresden.

With the federal authorities expecting a flood of newcomers — an estimated 300,000 will apply for asylum in Germany this year, after 200,000 in 2014 — places like Vorra, population 1,000, are struggling to make room.

The mayor of Tröglitz, Markus Nierth, quit after marchers opposed to the housing of migrants demonstrated outside his house. At least half a dozen politicians, from big city districts to tiny towns, subsequently told the German news media of harassment and even death threats.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, Mr. Nierth said he was glad the federal authorities now seemed willing to do more, particularly financially. “It is really hard to make clear to some people that there is no money for a kindergarten or a swimming pool, but there is money to put up refugees,” he said. If the state or federal government absorbed the cost, hostility to refugees would diminish, he said.

Source: NYT