By Jennifer Goetz
The more the merrier.
The German government agreed to accept one million refugees in the midst of the European immigration crisis. Harald Leibrecht, president of the Cultural and Educational Programs Abroad foundation and former member of Bundestag, Germany’s legislative assembly, spoke to students on Tuesday, Sept. 29, to provide a German perspective on the matter.
Leibrecht, also a former German politician, explained Germany’s reasoning behind accepting the migrants and explained the situation at large.
According to Leibrecht, one of the biggest problems facing the world today has been the immigration crisis in Europe. Hundreds of men, women and children have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea in hopes of finding salvation in a European country.
Many of these migrants are fleeing their countries to start over with a clean slate and have a better shot at success in the future. Their own countries have been strained with economic and political turmoil, and some need to escape for the sake of their own safety.
“It was nice to hear from an actual German politician,” senior history major Evan Moran said.
Germany’s current population is around 85 million, while Munich, a city in Germany, has 80,000 citizens.
“It will not be easy to cope with,” Leibrecht said, but Germany looks toward the rest of Europe and the United States for support. “Germany was in a comfortable position.”
Germany is not on the European border, however, it is surrounded by other European countries. If the refugees seek political asylum in one of the first countries they make it to, such as Italy or Greece, they will have to stay there. The European Union has been working to amend these immigration policies, but until then, refugees are encouraged to wait to obtain asylum until they have reached countries, such as Germany, that are willing and capable of accepting them.
Even if it is a burden, Leibrecht believes having refugees in Germany will be helpful for the country in the long run. The refugees arriving — particularly the Syrians — are educated and Germany is “desperately in need of quality, intelligent people,” he said.
The German economic system is booming right now, slated as one of the strongest economies today with the current rate of unemployment being around 2 percent. Germany also runs on a pension system, according to Leibrecht, and soon enough people will have to retire and the younger generation will help support the previous one.
Most of the migrants are in that younger generation. Germany is trying to focus on how to accommodate the refugees with housing, and will then focus on how to properly integrate them into the German society, according to Leibrecht.
While the German government has agreed to take these refugees into the country, there are still officials and groups that disapprove. Some advocate for the exact opposite approach: to close the borders. These government officials believe that there are too many people to allow such an influx of refugees into their country and that it is not worth the risk to security.
“Our enemies might find themselves in the heart of Europe,” Leibrecht said.
He knows that ISIS members will likely blend in with the other refugees. The NeoNazi political party in Germany is strictly against foreigners coming into the country and have been protesting. However, Leibrecht said that many people are willing to take on the refugees with open arms.
“No one will be left out for the fear that not-nice people will make it in,” he said.