About 130 German cities are going against the anti-migration trend and petitioning the German federal government to send them more asylum seekers and refugees.
Many of Germany’s major cities, such as Berlin, Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Freiburg, are included in the lobbying efforts.
According to Deutsche Welle, a media outlet funded by the German government, a number of representatives from Düsseldorf, Potsdam and other cities said during a joint press conference that they wanted to upend Germany’s migration policy and resettle migrants in their cities.
The German cities are primarily focused on resettling refugees rescued on the Mediterranean Sea
“We would be prepared to take in more people if we were allowed,” Mike Schubert, mayor of Potsdam and member of the Cities of Safe Harbors initiative told journalists. “We are currently experiencing a policy of wait and see, but that’s the opposite of acting.”
Rottenburg am Neckar, a small town of 5,800 people, might be one of the most dramatic cases. Stephan Neher, from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), is active in trying to push the federal government to allow his town to accept more refugees. So far, reports Le Figaro, the town has accepted about 850 refugees.
“Our city does not want to remain inactive and just watch people die simply because Europe does not respect the right to life. We, as a municipality, want to take our part in this challenge and make sure that we act in a human way,” told Neher to the Le Figaro daily.
Neher has quite an unorthodox request. He wants permission from the government to send a bus to one of the refugee centers in Malta or Lampedusa in Italy to bring asylum seekers to his hometown. Neher has already planned to accommodate refugees in a vacant building that can house about 60 migrants.
The request comes as governments across Europe are taking measures to secure their borders. Polling shows that the anti-migration Italy’s Liga Party, headed by Matteo Salvini, would likely win election if they were held today. Greece is installing a floating sea wall to deter more migrants from arriving in the country, which is already overburdened with thousands waiting in transit camps.
In order for the German government to permit the resettlement of refugees in German cities that want them, federal authorities would have to accelerate asylum procedures.
Thomas Geisel, Mayor of Düsseldorf and member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), commented on the decision, saying that there is “no choice” and the request is “an appeal to the government which should be seen as an encouragement.”
However, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU), who is a long time opponent of mass migration, disagrees with such plans. He also urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to introduce the maximum yearly quota on asylum seekers. Earlier, he criticized the city of Potsdam for welcoming in unaccompanied minors.
Migrants have already cost Germany billions
The German government recently released figures highlighting just how much Germany has spent, including a record €23 billion in 2018, including rent subsidies, jobless payments and other benefits.
Cities have also been on the hook for billions, with German newspaper Junge Freiheit reporting that Hamburg has spent €5.35 billion on migrants between 2015 and 2019.
A significant study released by German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) less than a year ago found that 65 percent of the 7,500 migrants they interviewed were still out of work.
The costs of Germany’s influx in migrants have led to the formation of the anti-migrant party Alternativ für Deutschland. At the same time, many parties are lobbying for more migrants. At the beginning of January, many were also surprised by the proposal of the German Green Party to accept about 150 million undocumented climate refugees.