For those politicians, demographers and media outlets advocating mass immigration as a solution to the financial problems facing pension systems in Western Europe, the harsh reality is that immigration is burning giant holes in national budgets, with Germany the latest case in point.
In 2020, long before the influx of Ukrainian refugees totaling over a million, and continuous flows of illegal migrants totaling into the hundreds of thousands, Germany disclosed that it would spend €64.5 billion over the next four years on migrants, which only included federal spending. That sum amounted to €15 billion a year, but the latest data shows that number was widely off the mark.
Now, the total sum has exploded higher, reaching at least €36 billion in 2023 alone, which includes €26.65 billion in federal spending and €10 billion at the local and state level, according to new data from the Federal Ministry of Finance led by Christian Lindner (FDP). That data also shows that the federal government spent even more on immigration in 2022, amounting to €30 billion.
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The figure of €36 billion in 2023, which was reported by German financial newspaper Handelsblatt, is hardly the full picture either. Mass immigration has contributed to a surge in real estate prices, more traffic in cities, larger and more difficult classrooms, longer wait times for medical care, and a host of other quality-of-life issues that have led the majority of Germans to become increasingly resistant to more immigration. The costs of the crisis also come at a time when Germans are dealing with elevated inflation and a weakening economy.
There are signs that spending will only accelerate. In the first three months of 2023, 163,000 migrants arrived in Germany, with 80,978 illegal immigrants arriving mostly from countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey and Iraq, while 81,647 Ukrainian war refugees also entered the country.
The specific interior ministry data shows the government plans to pay €9.5 billion in benefit payments to migrants who have not paid anything into the German social security system. There is also €2.7 billion allotted to integration services and €1 billion for admission, accommodation and registration. Another €2.8 billion is being sent to states and municipalities. The government is also allocating €10.7 billion to combat the causes of flight, but it is unclear how that money will be spent in service of this goal.
Crisis at the local level
Although federal spending on migrants is astronomically high, the crisis is most directly being felt at the local level, where states and municipalities have been in a heated battle with the federal government about who is responsible for rising costs. Local politicians argue they are bearing the financial and sociological brunt of a crisis that has seen seniors kicked out of retirement homes to make room for migrants, schools and daycares struggling to integrate newcomers, and protests raging against container cities being built up across the country to deal with overflowing asylum homes.
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The federal government, like the states, is increasingly turning to debt in order to fund the crisis. The states and local authorities are demanding the government take on more of the financial burden, arguing that the €2.8 billion allocated is far from enough to cover the costs incurred. The federal government and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) reject this request. Instead, Faeser has been enthusiastic about bringing in more migrants and silencing those who reject mass immigration.
The left-wing government has long been criticized for its “silence” in the face of the crisis.