Germany Doesn't Know if It's Coming or Going With Refugee Crisis

The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel is in disarray as the interior ministry, which earlier today released new, tighter guidelines for asylum, walked back the new rules.

At the same time, the government tightened rules for so-called "subsidiary" asylum seekers that would prevent the refugee from bringing his family to Germany for two years.

The Wall Street Journal:

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere initially said on Friday that Syrian migrants in the country would no longer be granted full refugee status. Instead, they would from now on get so-called subsidiary protection, which is more limited in time and, under another legal change announced this week, wouldn’t allow asylum seekers to bring their families for two years.

“Other countries in such situations already only give limited protection, that is what we will do with the Syrians now,” Mr. de Maizière told German radio.

Yet within hours, the ministry corrected the statement, saying in an email message that the government would stick with the current practice for now.

“All changes will be discussed in the coalition beforehand,” it said, noting, however, that the ministry had been asked to implement the change at the start of the week.

The initially announced change Friday was the latest indication that the government is progressively walking back the generous open-door refugee policy it adopted in late summer as it faces what its critics say is an unsustainable tide of new arrivals.

While full asylum status is initially valid for three years and allows recipients to bring their families immediately, subsidiary protection is generally granted to foreigners who don’t qualify for full asylum status—but would still face considerable risks in their home country if deported back to their homelands. Subsidiary protection is generally granted for up to one year and can be renewed.

In a separate tightening, the government said on Thursday it wouldn’t allow anyone under subsidiary protection to bring family members into Germany for the first two years of their stay. The coalition also agreed to set up between three and five registration centers across the country where migrants with slim prospect of being granted asylum would have their claims expeditiously reviewed and could face immediate deportation if rejected.

“The numbers are so high that we can’t on top of that take in all the family members so quickly,” Mr. de Maizière said Friday.

Has anyone asked somebody in the Merkel government why they didn't think about that sort of thing before they opened the floodgates? Sheesh.

However ill-planned and ill-considered Merkel's actions may have been, the confusion and hesitation shown today by the government reflects a basic conflict in Germany between their self image of a tolerant, welcoming society and the reality pressing in on them in the form of a million or more desperate, poor, and largely untrained refugees who will change the country in ways that no one can presently imagine.

They really don't want to alter their open borders policy, but have little choice if they are to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe. Meanwhile, we'll see how the German people respond to the efforts by the Merkel government to spread the refugees around the country. It's hard to believe there won't be some kind of backlash when smaller communities will be required to take in more refugees than they can handle.