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The Latest Victim of Merkel's Mistake: Genuine Refugees

Almost all the policy suggestions I made 7 months ago, on August 30, 2015, have now been adopted. The steps I recommended, which were denounced as pure xenophobia by many Germans at that time, are now the official policy of the EU, and openly endorsed by Angela Merkel.

Exactly as I predicted.

The Balkan route has been shut down. Fences have been built and are, of course, actually keeping migrants out. The EU has just signed an agreement with Turkey to shut down the Aegean sea route. Migrants will henceforth be chosen from among registered genuine refugees actually fleeing the Syrian civil war. All others will, presumably, be summarily denied admission into the EU. 

And who are the victims of these new restrictive policies? In many cases, genuine Syrian refugees. The Washington Post reports:

To escape the whip-wielding Islamic State militants who control their home town, Ibrahim al-Saraj and his parents, sisters and brother hid in the back of a truck beneath a pile of rocks.

They slipped through barbed wire, slept in a forest, paid their lives’ savings to smugglers and clung with all their might to a rubber dinghy that pitched and rolled for five hours over dark and violent seas.

Then they landed on the Greek island of Lesbos, a little patch of palm-fringed paradise in the ­Aegean. But during their tortuous journey, the dreams that sustained them turned into a mirage.

Not only did the borders deeper in Europe slam shut, but the continent’s leaders announced Tuesday that everyone who crossed the sea to reach Greece would be sent back to Turkey. The edict applies even to those, like Saraj and his family, who are fleeing war.

“They can’t do that to us,” said Saraj, a slight and habitually smiling 19-year-old Iraqi. “The borders must open soon.”...

And if Europe’s leaders have their way, the flows will soon be reversed, with once-joyous arrivals replaced by potentially ugly scenes as people are rounded up for return voyages across the ­Aegean.

The island where hundreds of thousands of people glimpsed Europe for the first time could become, for some, their last fleeting image of a new life that never was.

Many say they will not go quietly.

“If we die here, it’s better than going back,” said Sahir Noh, an 18-year-old Iraqi from the minority Yazidi group who traveled to Greece with 28 family members. Islamic State militants “killed 5,000 people in our community and kidnapped 6,000 more. So how can we live there? All we want is protection. Nothing else.”

I would certainly give these people refuge until they can return safely, wouldn't you? But now their future is uncertain. A brief recap of why that is:

  1. In 2015, Germany takes a unilateral decision to open its borders, over the strong objection of most other European countries.
  2. Well over a million people flow into Europe without any meaningful background checks.
  3. A minority of them are genuine refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war.
  4. A majority of them are young males relocating from various stable countries with totally unrealistic dreams of somehow getting well-paying jobs, even though they have no qualifications and many are illiterate.
  5. Some of these young men, who have no legal claim to asylum or refugee status, begin committing crimes both mundane and spectacular, from shoplifting to gang-rape to terrorist atrocities.
  6. The crimes and misdemeanors of a small group of criminal rabble with bogus asylum claims (coupled with sobering bad news regarding the skill and education levels even of the law-abiding ones) stir xenophobic resentments toward all migrants, including genuine refugees. 
  7. As a result of this, and of Germany's arrogance, right wing parties gain support all through Europe.
  8. In this new atmosphere, massive restrictions are rushed into place, but they are too little, too late.
  9. And now, deserving refugees genuinely fleeing civil war face uncertainty and potential exclusion.

Like a child ruining its appetite by eating too many sweets before dinner, German policy spoiled Europe's appetite for refugee assistance (such as it was) by letting in a bunch of troublemakers who obviously were not refugees. And arrogantly scolding anyone who pointed to this obvious fact.  This development is almost exclusively the fault of the people who ran Germany in 2015. It was not only no surprise, it was completely predictable, and was predicted -- by me, among many others. As I said back on June 20, 2015:

A policy which brings millions of low-skilled immigrants with different skin colors, languages, beliefs, and customs into any European country will spark a fierce backlash even in supposed citadels of tolerance such as Denmark and Sweden. If you nevertheless support such a policy, you must also create a plan to deal with the backlash, otherwise you are just posturing.

When Syrians fleeing oppression look for someone to blame for the fact that Europe has now shut its borders, they would be completely within their rights to point to one person: Angela Merkel.