Background Checks on Refugees Are Not a Human Rights Violation

People find it hard to believe when I tell them Germany let hundreds of thousands of people into the country without any background checks. Germany is supposed to be one of the world's most efficient and bureaucratic countries, and in many respects it is.

And yet it's true -- Germany let people in without any idea who they were. Germany even let people in who obviously lied about who they were. And Germany still has no idea who thousands of these people are.

The sheer numbers of people entering Germany totally swamped a system that wasn't very effective even when dealing with smaller numbers of people. Thousands were let into Germany with obviously forged passports (g), even though this is a serious crime under German law, as it is under the law of every other country. Even when migrants arrived without any identity papers (hundreds of passports were found stuffed in the toilets of train stations (g) just across the German border), the federal agency didn't even look at the migrants' cellphones (g).

To this day, the precise identity of hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants is still unknown. Only now a year and a half after they arrived, have all migrants been fingerprinted. The process has revealed hundreds of cases of migrants registering multiple times in different German cities (g) with different identities to obtain additional social welfare benefits -- the fraud is estimated to have cost taxpayers millions of Euros.

Contrast this with the process for resettling Syrian refugees in the United States:

...I received a call from the United Nations asking if my family would like to resettle somewhere else. Based on our documents, stories and circumstances — our large family, five girls, my husband’s potential as a healthy worker — we had been deemed eligible to apply for refugee status.

We could not return home to Syria. We could not continue living on the brink of starvation in Lebanon. A safe option was available: We began the application process to come to the United States.

The process started with a series of meetings with U.S. government representatives — at least five in-person interviews with each of us and countless phone conversations. The questions were very detailed: about my family, my friends, how I spent my time. The interviewers often knew the answers to the questions before they asked them. They asked about my life going back to the day I was born; they even knew the location of the hospital. My story is my story, so I knew that the details would match their information. But I was stunned by the level of scrutiny and the length of the process.

Each member of the family told their story, and those stories had to be consistent with interviews given by other people who knew us. If our answers didn’t match information U.S. officials already had, or if they couldn’t validate our information, we didn’t progress to the next step. I had only a glimmer of hope that this would work — and that we could have a safe life for my daughters. We lived on that hope.....

Now my daughters, who previously spoke no English, are in school, and my husband has a good job as a driver for a clothing company. My biggest dream is for them to have a good education and good careers, and for us to be part of this society: to learn the language, to do something productive, to integrate. That’s exactly what Trump believes is impossible.

The irony is that Trump thinks the U.S. system for vetting refugees is lax, and he's wrong. The country that is actually making the mistakes he thinks the U.S. is making is Germany. It's Germany, not the U.S., which ignored its citizens' legitimate interest in known who is entering their country.

Trump notoriously referred to Merkel's decision to open the borders as a 'catastrophic mistake'. That may be one of the the only things I agree with him on.


I'm Big in Israel!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a journalist from the Israeli business daily TheMarker, who wanted to know my views about German immigration policy. I thought that might be a reasonable way to sum up my thoughts all in one place, since the questions were quite wide-ranging. The article was just published. It's in Hebrew, but it seems to contain quite a bit of my interview, if Google Translate can be trusted.

Just to ensure nothing gets lost in translation, here are my original answers. I've edited a few parts for clarity, but no major changes.

There's not much happening on the immigration front right now, so I've largely moved on to other subjects. I'll let this stand here as my (quasi) last word on the subject.

You are an immigrant yourself, born in Brussels and grew up in the US. what differentiates you from Muslim immigrants? 

I’d say there’s not much difference between myself and a “culturally” but not especially religious Muslim immigrant who has an advanced degree, speaks fluent German, participates in community life, and is employed and pays taxes. In fact, I know quite a number of people like that here in Germany. Immigrants such as myself and my Muslim friends contribute positively to German society. We have never needed welfare or committed a serious crime, and have consistently been employed and paid our taxes.

The two question when it comes to immigration is: How many? Which ones? A manageable number of people like us is a benefit to any country.

But that’s not what Germany’s getting. Hundreds of thousands of young males (about 65-70% of the 2015 arrivals were males under 35) with little education and no job skills were allowed to enter Germany in 2015. Those people chose Germany not because of any affinity for the country or knowledge of its culture, but simply because they thought they might be able to find a place here, and had been told by smugglers that Germany ‘needed’ and ‘invited’ them.

The German borders should be open for all, shouldn't they?

Definitely not. There is a fraction of left-wing extremists who do not believe countries should be allowed to have borders, but they’re no more than 5% of the population of Germany, at most. A 2009 Pew poll found that 25 million people worldwide would like to permanently relocate to Germany. If that happened, Germany as we know it would vanish.

This is why no country in the world has ever voluntarily had unregulated open borders since the formation of the modern nation-state. Germany’s existing laws – including Article 16a of the Basic Law (Germany’s modern Constitution) and its Asylum Law set out a reasonable legal framework for who gets to enter the country. The problem was that Angela Merkel decided to order that these laws be ignored.

What is your main criticism against the German immigration policy, especially in the past couple of years?

The fundamental flaw in German immigration policy is that there is no overall German law for permitting the orderly migration of people with education, job skills, and motivation to adapt to German society. This means that much German immigration is regulated by asylum law: someone shows up in the country illegally, and then claims asylum. These are not people Germany has invited or whom whom Germany needs. Rather, they are people who happened to want to relocate to Germany and could afford the smugglers’ fees. Some have valid asylum claims, many do not.

That is the long-term background problem. The more recent problem is the government’s total failure to prepare for the migrant influx in 2015. Chancellor Merkel and other leading politicians sent out inviting signals of ‘welcome’ which induced over a million people – 65-70% of whom were young and male – to start on the path to Germany. The majority of the 2015 arrivals were not Syrians. They came from Albania, Afghanistan, Serbia, Georgia, Kosovo, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan, India, and dozens of other countries which are not at war, although they are poor and some have regional insurgencies. The proportion of Syrians went up in 2016, but the overall numbers (around 200,000) are much lower, since Germany has re-introduced some border controls.

This huge influx of people all at once in 2015 completely swamped the German immigration system. Hundreds of thousands of young males from the most unstable parts of the world flooded into Germany. There were no backgrounds checks, no fingerprint records, no attempt at verification of their identity or background. A majority of them claimed they had no identity papers or presented fake ones. Germany still has no reliable information about who thousands of these people are.

Can’t Germany just send them back? No. The slow, cumbersome German deportation laws have broken down completely: there are now about 500,000 people whose asylum claims have been rejected but who are still in the country. There are literally dozens of ways to avoid deportation: get a certificate of illness from a sympathetic doctor, argue your homeland is too unsafe, physically resist when you get on the deportation plane, claim asylum in a Christian church, or simply go underground. Some Afghans have even avoided deportation by claiming to be Taliban, absurdly enough. This claim automatically starts a complex legal process, during which the migrant is permitted to stay in Germany and move freely.

Another problem is that the countries from which these men come don’t want many of them back. Migrants from North Africa are committing crimes at such a high rate that it’s become clear that a large portion of the criminal underclass of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco came to Germany. Those countries can keep their undesirables in Germany by simply failing to issue the necessary deportation paperwork. Thousands of deportations are stalled for this reason alone. The Tunisian truck attacker, Anis Amri, was already known to be a criminal and dangerous radical Islamist, and was supposed to be deported, but Tunisia refused to issue the paperwork confirming his nationality -- until two days after the terror attack. Germany, by the way, provided € 215 million in development aid to Tunisia (g) in 2015.

Less spectacular crimes have also been committed by migrants. This is understandable: they are mostly young men, the group most likely to commit crime in any society. They have nothing to do all day, do not speak German or English, the majority do not have even the equivalent of a high-school education. They are now living in a culture where alcohol is cheap and available everywhere, women dress in a ‘revealing’ fashion, and the cultural controls of their community and family are gone. The predictable result has been an increase in crime near migrant shelters. Most of the crime has been nonviolent property offenses, but there have also been dozens of killings, thousands of assaults and sex crimes, three completed terrorist attacks, and one serious attempt (Jaber al Bakr, a radicalized Syrian who committed suicide in prison after being arrested for creating 1.5 kg of high explosive and planning to bomb a Berlin airport).

The federal government does not keep accurate statistics on the number of crimes committed by recent migrants, but claims that migrants do not commit crimes at a higher rate than Germans of a similar demographic background – i.e. disproportionately young and male. Backers of the political consensus see this as reassuring, critics of German policy point out that even if this assertion is true, it still means thousands of crimes are now happening in Germany because of the migrant influx. Further, migrants tend to commit different kinds of crimes than Germans. In particular, they have committed hundreds of sexual assaults in public against random strangers (including many against children), a type of crime that was much more uncommon before the migrants arrived, and which has a particularly strong impact on quality of life.

Since migrant shelters are located in poor and working-class neighborhoods (which lack the political power to oppose them), it is poorer Germans – including many established immigrants – who are bearing the brunt of migrant crime.

Do you think Islam the worst threat on Europe? If so, why?

I would distinguish between Islam and Islamism. I don’t see Islam itself as a threat to Europe. The vast majority of European Muslims are in fact peaceful and law-abiding, and don’t pose a ‘threat’.

However, if we talk about adapting successfully to European societies, there is a problem. Once again, it’s a question of how many? And which ones? Most Muslims in Germany were imported from Eastern Anatolia as factory labor in the 1960s, or as refugees during the Lebanese civil war. Their numbers then steadily expanded by chain migration and family reunification. These persons were originally intended to be temporary manual labor, and were not chosen because they were likely to adapt successfully to Europe. Muslims have come to shape the character many neighborhoods in Germany and France, and continue to gain both in numbers and political power. Some immigrant communities now effectively work according to their own rules.

This doesn’t mean they are a threat – the mere fact that someone may have conservative religious beliefs and wear a hijab is not a ‘threat’ to anyone. But the stubborn reality ias that Muslims in Germany and France do worse on most measures of social integration and flourishing than native populations. The existence of many individual success stories cannot hide the fact that Germans of Turkish descent are only half as likely to attend university as native Germans, or that France’s prisons are up to 70% Muslim. (We have only estimates, since France refuses to record the religion or ethnicity of prisoners). And although there is a taboo against mentioning it, statistics show that foreigners and those with a foreign background commit crimes at a much higher rate than ethnic Germans. Two things are true: the majority of Muslims in Germany are law-abiding, but the rate of crime among Muslims is higher than among ethnic Germans.

Muslims also face discrimination. European countries are not nations of immigrants. Each has its own unique cultural identity and heritage. They are not new, young nations such as Israel or the United States. Neither their people nor their culture is accustomed to embracing large numbers of culturally-foreign outsiders. Yet that is what many of these countries have tried to do. The result is social tension, discrimination, exclusion, and distrust.

Muslims will not ‘destroy’ or ‘take over’ Europe, that sort of rhetoric is irresponsible and not supported by the facts. But the results of past mistaken immigration policies will burden Europe for decades.

What type of immigration policy should Germany adopt?

As I’ve written before, I advocate a two-tier system inviting skilled workers and asylum-seekers. First, Germany should welcome a certain number skilled, educated workers a year by using a Canada-style point system, where you get credit for being educated, having a job offer, knowing some German, and being ready and willing to integrate. Because of past mistakes in immigration policy, many Germans associate immigrants with social dysfunction, crime, and menial labor. Only a plan to import skilled immigrants who will immediately contribute from day one can overcome this negative impression.

I would also certainly keep Germany’s asylum policy. Because of its notorious history, German has included a right to political asylum in its very constitution, and has one of the world’s most generous asylum policies, if not the most. This is appropriate. However, the current system is open to massive abuse: people sneak into the country illegally, file an asylum claim using a made-up story, and often disappear underground before the claim is even judged. As I pointed out above, the system for deporting failed asylum-seekers is broken.

Asylum claims should be processed outside German territory. Asylum seekers should be subjected to a thorough medical check and background investigation, and their identity determined through fingerprints and DNA. Their stories should be verified as thoroughly as possible. Destroying documents of lying about your identity will automatically result in exclusion. Asylum seekers should be chosen on the basis of greatest need and danger, not on current basis, which favors those healthy enough to travel and rich enough to bribe smugglers. There should be an annual upper limit decided by the legislature.

Most countries already manage asylum this way; Germany should follow suit.

What do you say to left-wingers who claim that almost an absolute majority of Muslims immigrant are good hard working people who want to assimilate in the German society, and that they are very important to the German economy as well, as cheap labour for jobs that local Germans are not willing to do?

As I’ve said, most Muslims who have lived in Germany for some time are indeed hard-working and law abiding, although their overall net economic contribution (minus social welfare benefits, which they collect at a higher rate) to German society is modest.

The 1.2 million (the numbers are still imprecise, because the sheer number of arrivals has swamped recordkeeping systems) who have arrived since the beginning of 2015 are another matter entirely. Almost none of them has the preconditions for integrating successfully into German society. They don’t speak the language, don’t understand the culture or customs, have very little education, and don’t have the kind of job skills Germany wants or needs. One recent study showed that only 34,000 have managed to find jobs so far, and most of those jobs are temporary menial labor.

If they are allowed to stay, these hundreds of thousands of new arrivals will compete directly with low-skilled German workers – cashiers, delivery drivers, nursing aides, warehouse workers, store clerks, gardeners, janitors and the like. This sector of the German economy has seen no growth in its real wages since decades, while prices and rents consistently rise. When financially-strapped Germans see a flood of cheap immigrant labor coming to compete for their jobs, they will be extremely angry. And they will vote accordingly. Already, studies show thousands of working-class Germans switching from the Social Democratic Party to the AfD. And this is happening during boom times with low unemployment in Germany. When the next business downturn hits, the resentment will only escalate.

Germany needs skilled workers, not menial workers. Yet even if Germany wanted to import menial workers, the question arises: why from Muslim countries? There are millions of EU citizens from Eastern Europe who are eager for low-skilled jobs in Germany, and who come from nations which are culturally much closer to Germany than, say, Afghanistan.

Do you support Merkel? Where do you position yourself on the political map?

I support a strong social welfare state, so I would probably be a left-wing Social Democrat on this issue. I’d probably vote SPD if I voted in Germany. I am convinced, based on my review of the literature, that mass immigration poses a grave threat to the social welfare state: historically, support for welfare goes down the more diverse a society is -- or becomes.

Merkel has been a competent Chancellor overall, a sort of technical caretaker who governs by consensus. This no-drama approach is very popular among Germans. Merkel is a reasonable choice for times where everything is going well. However, I think she has made several critical mistakes, the most recent being the reckless migrant influx, and should step down. There will be little change in any case, since the German political landscape is so fractured that only a center consensus coalition has a chance of winning.

Do you fear that the terror attacks by Muslims and the hostility towards them in Germany would lead to the rise of the extreme right, represented particularly by the party ‘Alternative for Germany’?

This is already happening, all over Europe. In the Netherlands, France, the UK, Hungary, and Sweden, right-wing parties (or movements, such as Brexit) are gaining unprecedented support. Germany has long had a strong suspicion of nationalist conservative parties (for obvious reasons) which has kept the AfD’s support to under 15%, for now. But that is a very large number in Germany’s fracture political landscape, and represents a tripling in support from 2013.

The AfD currently easily outpolls the Green and Left parties. For years, the AfD profited by being the only party which clearly, openly opposed Chancellor Merkel’s open-borders policy. Many of its other positions are extreme by German standards, and unpopular among German voters. Now that many other politicians in Germany have basically copied many AfD positions on immigration, its support may drop. But right now, it is still climbing slowly in the polls, and may even soon pull equal to the collapsing Social Democratic Party, which would be a true milestone in German politics.

What are the changes you sense in the public discussion regarding Muslims in the past year? Do Germans feel more free to criticise Islam freely, or is it still considered a non P.C subject to talk about?

There has been a huge change. In mid-2015, an almost euphoric attitude of Willkommenskultur existed in the German media and public life. The entire mainstream press, including tabloids, referred to all the migrants as ‘refugees’. Volunteers arranged train convoys to carry them into Germany, often more than 10,000 refugees in one day. German volunteers distributed teddy bears to the children, food and clothes to the adults, and helped overburdened government agencies find a place for all the new arrivals to sleep. A prominent Green politician, Katrin Göring-Eckhardt, famously exclaimed: “We’ve suddenly been given the gift of people!” (Wir bekommen plötzlich Menschen geschenkt!). The press was full of ecstatic stories about Germany becoming a new kind of ‘moral’ superpower. Mainstream magazines and newspapers published dozens of profiles of ‘poster child’ refugees. There were so many profiles of Syrian doctors that the very phrase ‘Syrian doctor’ became a meme. Germany basked in praise from Obama, EU officials, the UN, refugee rights groups, and other liberal internationalists the world over. People who raised doubts about the policy were often denounced and attacked as xenophobes, racists, or worse.

Now, of course, we know that the majority of the 2015 arrivals were neither Syrians nor doctors. Costs are running somewhere around €2 billion per month, since virtually all the migrants are on welfare for asylum seekers, which includes rent, food, housing, medical care, education, and a monthly allowance of between €150 and €400, depending on circumstances. Shelters housing young male refugees are notoriously chaotic, spectacular crimes by immigrants have horrified observers, local governments are facing huge financial strain, the statistics on migrant participation in integration and language classes are disappointing.

Even migrants who wanted to learn German – and that certainly was not all of them – are finding it extremely difficult, and many have given up. German is a difficult language to learn, especially if you have never used the Latin alphabet and are illiterate in your own mother tongue, which is true of at least 30-40% of migrants. Most Germans who volunteered to teach German of help manage shelters have long since gone back to their normal jobs and lives. In February of 2016, two-thirds of Germans believed the refugees could be successfully integrated. Recent polls show only a minority – as low as 15% in some polls -- believes this. Politicians now routinely call for stepped-up deportations, a position that only the AfD held until recently.

The euphoria has worn off. Immigration and integration now top the list of concerns of German voters. The mood is hesitant and uncertain. Local communities continue to request billions from the federal government to provide for migrants, almost all of whom are still dependent on government welfare and charity. Nobody knows how the situation will turn out, but you don’t have to be a pessimist to see the potential for dark days ahead.


Isolated, Unable to Communicate, Easy to Radicalize

Abigail Fielding-Smith has a good deep dive on Jaber al-Bakr, the Syrian refugee who became radicalized in Germany and was arrested last year for having constructed a powerful bomb:

The idea that a terrorist group like Islamic State has infiltrated the country through its refugee intake is alarming enough. But Jaber’s case suggests a different kind of challenge. If building a life in Germany is so hard that it could cause an ordinary Syrian refugee to fall in with extremists, how will the struggles of several hundred thousand others manifest themselves?

“So many, with no language, in such a short time,” says Manfred Murck, a former Hamburg intelligence chief. “This is a real field experiment.”...

The precise reasons behind Jaber’s decision to set out for Europe in 2014 are unclear. The country was falling apart, with more than 100,000 Syrians already dead. Many of the millions of young men who left were wanted by regime authorities, either for suspected links with the opposition or for military service.

Jaber may have been worried about getting called up, or he may simply have wanted out. In the aftermath of his arrest in Germany, one of Jaber’s brothers back home gave interviews to the media. His account is puzzling at points, and may reflect the pressures of living in a government-controlled area of Syria. During an interview with the TV program ARD-Fakt, he seemed to give different explanations for Jaber’s decision: he wanted to get out of Syria, he wanted to study more, and he had seen others going and wanted to join in....

aber was “really interested” in learning German when he first arrived, Samer recalls. He bought a book on it. In June 2015, he posted an article in German about a Syrian girl who arrived speaking only Arabic and passed the German end-of-school exams with top marks a year later. It’s unlikely Jaber would have understood the article, but it seemed to reflect an aspiration....

This sense of being exposed, looked at, and judged, can make it hard to practice German.

“I don’t want to speak when I only have a few words, because out there, there is no mercy,” explained Aziz, a young Syrian man living up the road from Eilenburg in Leipzig. Pieces of paper detailing the fiendish machinations of German grammar were pinned to his wardrobe.

One bit of German idiom with which Aziz is all too familiar is the word schmarotzer – scrounger.

“In Syria we had dignity,“ he said. “Now I have to ask for money. You don’t know how much it hurts.”

German is one of the trickier European languages. The articles – ‘the’ and ‘a’ - change form not just according to the gender of the noun attached to them but according to the case being used. Certain words trigger an inversion of the sentence order. Until rules like this have been drilled into you to the point where they are second nature, it is very hard to spontaneously express yourself in German.

Samer, Jaber’s housemate, believes that language is one aspect of a cultural barrier keeping many refugees excluded from German society.

“Let’s be honest, not every Syrian refugee who came here is a doctor”, he said. “I know many Syrians that still struggle to use the train.”...

Jaber didn’t seem to have what it takes to make it in the ‘white’ economy. “His interest in the language got less and less,” recalled Samer. “Jaber wasn’t disciplined –the new generation hasn’t been disciplined enough because of five years of war. When he came to Germany everything had rules and a system, and he couldn’t cope.”

As people like me have been pointing out for years now, the majority of the recent arrivals from MENA countries will never learn German. German is a tough language to learn even for people who speak English or Romance languages, to say nothing of semi-literate Arabs who use an entirely different alphabet. When confronted with these obvious problems, mainstream politicians invoke the mantra "German courses...German courses...we must have more German courses...". They never address the question of what happens if people fail those courses, or stop attending them. You'd think German politicians would know that this is a thing that happens in the real world, since about 1/3 (g) of Germans who enroll in university never finish.

And, as this article shows, that fact creates a security risk. Isolated, angry, with disappointed expectations, increasingly cloistered in ethnic sub-groups, and with propaganda and sympathetic recruiters just a mouse-click away. Even if only 1 in 100 becomes radicalized, that's quite a few radicals, considering that there are something like 500,000 young Muslim males now in Germany, the majority of whom will never learn German.


Immigration the German Way: Fire, Ready, Aim!

How most countries handle immigration:

  1. Figure out who the person who wants to enter your country is.
  2. Check to see if they have a good reason for entering your country.
  3. If they do, let them in.

How Germany handles immigration:

  1. Let them in.
  2. Check to see if they have a good reason for having already entered your country.
  3. Regardless of the answer, let them stay.
  4. Figure out who they are.

Immigration Drives Populism to the Tipping Point

Fareed Zakaria:

Supporters of Trump and other populist movements often point to economics as the key to their success — the slow recovery, wage stagnation, the erosion of manufacturing jobs, rising inequality. These are clearly powerful contributing factors. But it is striking that we see right-wing populism in Sweden, which is doing well economically; in Germany, where manufacturing remains robust; and in France, where workers have many protections. Here in the United States, exit polls showed that the majority of voters who were most concerned about the economy cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton.

The one common factor present everywhere, however, is immigration. In fact, one statistical analysis of European Union countries found that more immigrants invariably means more populists. According to the study, if you extrapolate from current trends, “as the percentage of immigrants approaches approximately 22 percent, the percentage of right-wing populist voters exceeds 50 percent.” Hostility to immigration has been a core theme of every one of these populist parties.

One way to test this theory is to note that countries without large-scale immigration, such as Japan, have not seen the same rise of right-wing populism. Another interesting case is Spain, a country that has taken in many immigrants, but mostly Spanish-speaking Latinos, who are easier to assimilate. While you see traditional left-wing economic populism in Spain, you do not see right-wing nationalist movements.

The backlash against immigration is rooted in fact. As I pointed out in a Foreign Affairs essay (written in September, before Trump’s victory), we are living in an age of mass migration. In the past three or four decades, Western societies have seen large influxes of people from different lands and cultures. In 1970, foreign-born people made up less than 5 percent of the U.S. population; today they are about 14 percent. The rise is even sharper in most European countries, home to 76 million international migrants, recently coming mostly from Africa and the Middle East. Austria, for example, took in almost 100,000 immigrants last year — adding 1 percent to its population in 2015 alone.

This much change can be unsettling. For most of human history, people have lived, worked and died within a few miles of the place they were born. But in recent decades, hundreds of millions of people from poorer countries have moved to wealthier ones. This reflects an economic reality. Rich countries have declining birthrates and need labor; poor countries have millions who seek better lives. But this produces anxiety, unease and a cultural backlash that we are witnessing across the Western world.

What does this mean for the future? Western societies will have to better manage immigration. They should also place much greater emphasis on assimilation. Canada should be a role model. It has devised smart policies on both fronts, with high levels of (skilled) immigration, strong assimilation and no major recoil.

The study he refers to is here. An excerpt from the abstract:

Among the central tenets of globalization is free migration of labor. Although much has been written about its benefits, little is known about the limitations of globalization, including how immigration affects the anti-globalist sentiment. Analyzing polls data, we find that over the last three years in a group of EU countries affected by the recent migrant crisis, the percentage of right-wing (RW) populist voters in a given country depends on the prevalence of immigrants in this country’s population and the total immigration inflow into the entire EU. The latter is likely due to the EU resembling a supranational state, where the lack of inner borders causes that ”somebody else’s problem” easily turns into ”my problem”. We further find that the increase in the percentage of RW voters substantially surpasses the immigration inflow, implying that if this process continues, RW populism may democratically prevail and eventually lead to a demise of globalization.

And some findings specifically about Austria and Germany:

In Fig. 2, using the data for Austria and Germany over the past three years (2013-2016), we demonstrate that the percentage of RW populist supporters also depends on the inflow of immigrants into Europe. Illustrative is the Austrian example, where in 2013 parliamentary election the far-right party won 20.5% of the popular vote, roughly reflecting the sentiment predicted from the percentage of immigrants living in Austria at the time. However, due to a high inflow of immigrants that in the second half of 2015 reached unprecedented proportions [33], the local Vienna election saw the percentage of RW voter suddenly jump to 33%. This sudden change in popular vote is reminiscent of phase transitions (i.e., tipping or critical points)—well documented in social sciences [35, 36]—whereby the closer a country to a tipping point, the more abruptly voters turn their back to moderate parties and start voting for more extreme alternatives. A qualitatively similar phenomenon is seen in the case of Germany in Fig. 2(b)-(c)....

Why would countries with a relatively high and a relatively low inflow of immigrants exhibit about the same increase in the percentage of RW voters? This result may be a consequence of the EU’s political organization. Because the EU functions practically as a supranational state with no internal borders, if one country decides to accept immigrants, this decision may have repercussions for all the other member states. The increase in the percentage of RW populist voters may therefore more systematically depend on the total inflow of immigrants into the entire EU, expressed here as a percentage of the total EU population, than the inflow in any individual country. Some, albeit anecdotal, evidence to the effect that the decision of one country may affect the situation in another is seen in the case of Sweden and Norway. The former country was among those that were hit the hardest by the recent migrant crisis, yet the latter country saw practically the same annualized increase in the percentage of RW voters.

Another interesting pair in this context is Germany and Poland. Again it was the former country that experienced a high inflow of immigrants, yet it is in Poland that 53% of the population thinks that their government should refuse asylum seekers from the Middle East and North Africa (and only 33% thinking Poland should do the opposite). The Polish example may contain another important lesson. Namely, this country seems to have already transitioned from the tolerant mode of democracy associated with globalization to a mode dominated by RW populism. If so, the implication is that the fraction of immigrants at which the Polish population is pushed beyond the tipping point is much lower than in western EU countries. Poland—and similarly Hungary, both of which share decades of socialist experience—is among the toughest opponents of immigration into the EU, strongly debating against the quotas that the EU imposed with a goal to more evenly spread the shock of recent migrant crisis.

The two most interesting findings of the study to me are first the idea of a tipping point: when a country reaches a certain level of immigration (and problems associated with it) support for populists begins rapidly increasing until they may become the most popular party in the country. The latest polls show (g) that the AfD in Germany is now at 15%, the Greens have dropped 3-4% to 9%, and the SPD continues its historic slide, now at 20%. Germany probably won't have as clear a tipping-point as other European countries owing to its fractured party landscape and historic suspicion of parties to the right of the CSU. But who knows?

The second factor the study points to is that Europeans are considering mass immigration as a European problem. Their point of view seems to be that we gave up a considerable amount of sovereignty over our own national borders in return for at least an implicit promise that Europe's borders would offer a similar amount of security. But they don't, and some bad actors within northwestern Europe have further undermined the implicit agreement by continuing to lure large numbers of unsuitable immigrants with their overly-generous policies. So we will elect populists at home in the hope that they will pursue policies that will minimize the fallout inside our own national borders.

That seems like a pretty sensible response to me.


The History of the German Press "No Ethnicity" Policy

Okinawa

(source)

Given that recent migrants have been committing a goodly number of crimes in Germany since 2015, the question facing reporters and editors is whether to tell their readers when crimes are committed by foreigners.

The German Press Code, a non-binding voluntary code of conduct put forward by the German Press Council, contains the famous Guideline 12.1, which specifies that news reports should not mention a that a criminal suspect is a member of an ethnic or religious minority unless there is an "objective reason" to do so linked to the specific circumstances of the crime. The rule further warns journalists that violating the guideline can "stoke prejudices against minorities".

This provision has come under a lot of scrutiny lately, with critics claiming it is a form of politically-correct censorship which patronizes readers. Readers can be trusted not to generalize, these critics say, and deserve a full picture of serious crimes. A few smaller German newspapers, including the Rhein Zeitung (g) and the Sächsische Zeitung (g), declared that they would no longer observe the guideline in their reporting. Most national press outlets have stuck by it, although they stress that they reserve the right to decide for themselves whether a suspect's ethnicity or nationality is relevant.

Yesterday I found out the interesting origins of this provision, thanks to this Deutschlandfunk (g) article. This long article (g) at the German Protestant Church's website gives an even more detailed history of the guideline's origins.

It turns out the provision goes back to a 1971 suggestion by Federation of German-American Clubs. They were dismayed that whenever black American soldiers were arrested for crimes in Germany, they were identified on the basis of their race. The Press Council incorporated the first "anti-discrimination" provision into the Press Code in 1973, and it's been updated several times since.

I found this enlightening and a bit surprising. I don't have all that much to add, except that the original context giving rise to Article 12.1 is hardly relevant anymore. There's a difference between merely identifying the skin color of a criminal suspect who is and will always remain a foreigner and who will certainly leave your country in a few years, and identifying the ethnic background of a person who is either living in your country for the foreseeable future, has its citizenship, or is actively claiming a a legal right to live there indefinitely (by getting asylum).

Tourists and soldiers on 2-year rotations are one thing, but Germans have every right to accurate information about whether people who have been invited to permanently resettle into their country or are seeking the right to do so are adapting well and contributing. And the amount of crime foreigners are responsible for is a legitimate indicator.

Yet even if this distinction doesn't convince you, gentle reader, I still think papers should ignore this guideline. Everyone already knows that certain kinds of crime are much more frequent in majority-black American ghettos and in heavily-immigrant areas of German cities. When flash-mobs pour into the streets of German cities (g) to attack policemen stopping cars or parking cops giving tickets, there is not a German alive who thinks the young men beating the cops have names like Ulf, Karlheinz, Alexander, and Torsten. Merely reporting what everyone is already going to suspect -- or (rarely) surprising them by showing the suspicion was false -- is hardly a breach of ethics.


"Arabs Enjoy the Suffering of Others"

Almost every day, something happens which reminds me of an interview (g) the Rheinische Post newspaper did with a Swiss woman, Gaby Zweng, in January of 2016. She has lived in Egypt for 17 years, and has had relationships with both Christian and Muslim men. She stressed that she herself felt safe in Egypt, and that the vast majority of Egyptians condemned the sort of sexual harassment that happened in Cologne.

But she also had a few other things to say:

You have surely heard of the attacks on New Years' Eve in Cologne. Does it surprise you that Muslims did something like that?

Zweng: Let's just say that it doesn't surprise me that men from Arab countries could do something like that. 

Why not?

Zweng: I am constantly aware here that events which are ascribed to Islam by the West happen just as often among Christians as among Muslims. Both religions live here alongside one another, and I think it's more a question of mentality than religion.

So the problem is not Islam but Arabic culture?

Zweng: Yes.

...

Could you imagine that something like what happened in Cologne might also happen in Cairo?

Zweng: Yes, that happened during the revolution in Cairo in Tahrir Square. Women went onto the streets and protested. I think that such things happen so that Arabic people can enjoy the suffering of other people, and that men especially want to raise their profile, especially in a group

Why do you think that Arabs, in particular, enjoy the suffering of others?

Zweng: Arabs love videos in which other people have accidents and suffer misfortunes. They find it funny. This has caught my attention, as well as that of some of my friends.

You mean videos of silly accidents and pratfalls like ones in Germany, or ones in which people are seriously injured?

Zweng: No, these are certainly serious videos. This is probably a result of the fact that here, you teach children what's right and wrong by hitting them, and people as a whole are much more likely to resort to violence than we are. That's how they are raised.

The latest incident that made me think of this interview was the arrest of seven young men -- six from Iraq, one from Libya -- for setting a homeless man on fire in a Berlin subway station.


Terrorism Set to Increase in Europe

Terrorism analyst Thomas Hegghammer predicts attacks will increase:

Abstract

This article presents a ten-year forecast for jihadism in Europe. Despite reaching historically high levels in recent years, violent Islamist activity in Europe may increase further over the long term due to four macro-trends: 1) expected growth in the number of economically underperforming Muslim youth, 2) expected growth in the number of available jihadi entrepreneurs, 3) persistent conflict in the Muslim world, and 4) continued operational freedom for clandestine actors on the Internet. Over the next decade, the jihadi attack plot frequency in Europe may follow a fluctuating curve with progressively higher peaks. Many things can undercut the trends and lead to a less ominous outcome, but the scenario is sufficiently likely to merit attention from policymakers....

The last few years have seen historically high levels of jihadi activity in Europe. There has been a negative development on a range of indicators, including:

  • Deaths: Between 2014 and 2016, jihadi attacks killed 273 people, more than in all previous years combined (267).[1]
  • Attacks: In 2015 and 2016, there were 14 jihadi attacks, about 3.5 times more than the biannual average (6) for the preceding fifteen years.[2]
  • Plots: In 2015 and thus far in 2016, there were 29 well-documented attack plots, about 2.5 times more than the biannual average (12).[3]
  • Execution rate: In 2015 and 2016 about half of the serious plots reached execution, compared with less than a third in the preceding fifteen years.[4]
  • Foreign fighters: Between 2011 and 2016 over 5,000 European Muslims went to fight in Syria; about five times more than the number that went to all previous destinations combined.[5]
  • Arrests: Between 2011 and 2015, almost 1,600 people were arrested in jihadism-related investigations in the EU (excluding the UK); an increase of 70% compared with the previous five-year period.[6]

....The first macro-trend is that the main demographic pool from which European jihadis have historically been recruited, namely economically underperforming Muslim youth, seems to be growing. We know that the majority of European jihadis are young Muslim men of immigrant background from the lower half of the socioeconomic ladder. We do not yet know whether or not their economic underperformance has a causal effect on radicalization, but we know that a majority of them are drawn from this demographic. Tens of large-n studies have found European jihadis, as a group, to score worse than national averages on indicators such as education level, employment rate, and criminal conviction rate.[19]

We also know that the size of the European Muslim population is increasing as a result of immigration and relatively high (but declining) fertility rates. According to Pew Research, the Muslim population in Northern, Western and Southern Europe is set to increase with around 50% from 2010 to 2030, from around 25 million to 37 million.[20] The highest relative increase is expected in Northern and Western Europe, with a 98% and 45% increase respectively (3.8 to 7.5 million in Northern Europe, and 11.3 to 16.4 million in Western Europe). The share of the total population is expected to increase from 3.8% to 7% in Northern Europe, from 6% to 8.6% in Western Europe, and from 6.9% to 8.8% in Southern Europe.

Pew also projected the Muslim population in all European countries except the Balkans to have a male surplus in 2030, albeit a slightly smaller one than in 2010. Some countries such as the UK, Norway, Spain and Italy expect sex ratios of over 120 men per 100 women in 2030. The Muslim population is also generally younger than the non-Muslim population, and although the gap is expected to decrease slightly compared with today, the proportion of the European Muslim population under age 30 in 2030 is expected at around 42%, compared with 31% for non-Muslims. The Pew analysis was conducted before the refugee crisis in 2015, which brought around 1 million asylum seekers from Muslim-majority countries to the European Union, over 60% of whom were men under 35.[21]

Most important, we have good reason to expect the European Muslim population to continue to be economically underperforming on average. In most European countries, Muslims are the most economically disadvantaged major religious group.[22] This is likely the result of three factors: first, that many Muslim immigrants arrived with low education; second, that social mobility in the EU is generally mediocre (except in Scandinavia)[23]; and third, that there is documented anti-Muslim discrimination in the labour market.[24] Put more simply, many early Muslim immigrants entered the labour market as working class, and their children were not able to climb the social ladder. This situation is likely to persist, because first-generation Muslim immigrants continue to arrive with relatively low education on average, and there is little to suggest social mobility will increase or anti-Muslim discrimination will decrease in the EU in the coming decade. We therefore have good reason to believe that the number of economically disaffected Muslim youth in Europe will be larger in 2030 than today.

It strikes me as highly likely that the hundreds of thousands of young Muslim males who arrived in Germany in 2015 will present an even higher risk of terrorism than Muslims who've been here longer. Young Muslim males in Germany have not carried out successful terror attacks at anywhere near the rate of ones in France and Belgium, despite being "economically underperforming" to a certain degree. Most observers attribute that to the fact that the modal Muslim male in Germany is Turkish, not Arabic. Something about Turkish Muslims seems to make them less susceptible to radicalization in Europe than Muslims from other countries.

But of course the demographic composition of German Muslims has been permanently changed by the 2015 influx. There are now hundreds of thousands of new arrivals from Arabic countries, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Unlike longer-settled Turkish Muslims, these new arrivals don't know and will likely never learn German. They also don't have local families and communities to watch over them and worry about them.

And as we're seeing every single day, they are becoming bitterly disappointed at life in Germany. They "promised" jobs and apartments haven't materialized. Learning German is a hopeless task for most of them, and living without language skills is always a bitter pill. They're young and full of testosterone, but can't find girlfriends. In addition to the fact that they can't speak German and have no jobs or money, there's also the fact that so many new young Muslim males entered Germany in 2015 that they have created a significant gender imbalance in their age group. There are now way too many males 18-34 in Germany chasing the same number of females as there were in 2013.

Add to that the very real possibility that they have a higher than average rate of mental illness.

These hundreds of thousands of disaffected, alienated, frustrated young males in Germany will be easy pickings for Jihadists in the coming years. Unless, that is, the German authorities manage to deport them. I'm not holding my breath.


Unblocked Photos, Video Surveillance, and Other Concessions to Reality

There are any number of German privacy laws that restrict the ability of German police to solve crimes. Cops are not allowed to use DNA to create profiles of criminal suspects. Major political parties continue to resist putting surveillance cameras in public places, or upgrading the ludicrously outdated ones that are already there. 

And police often wait days or months to publish photos of criminal suspects. Even when they do, the photos are often blurred out of concerns for "privacy".

Which leads to what the rest of the world sees as a ludicrous charade: a manhunt for a dangerous wanted terrorism suspect in which the public is not allowed to see the man's face.

This is the photos of Anis Amri, the Tunisian asylum-seeker suspect in the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market attack, as show on the front page of the German Bild tabloid:

Bildredc

And here is the photo of the suspect as shown on the Daily Mirror tabloid site:

Fff

As the Mirror notes, with barely-disguised incredulity:

Despite an unfolding international manhunt the first pictures of him released in Germany have his eyes deliberately covered, thought to be because of strict privacy laws there. MailOnline has uncovered unblurred images.

In case you were wondering, the website of the Daily Mirror can be accessed from anywhere inside Germany, so the unblurred photo is just a mouse-click away.

When Germans bother to ask why these photos are so often blurred, or not even released in the first place, authorities mumble something about 'privacy concerns' and 'data protection'. The restrictions have just been around forever, they're taken so much for granted that nobody seems to actually understand why they still exist. It's like asking why pretzels are folded the way they are. Who knows? We've always just done it that way.

If pressed, Green Party members (the most vociferous opponents of updating police laws) will probably say something like "Well, if you release the entire photo, the man will be marked for life. Maybe some vigilante will try to attack him." Yet there is no proof that these things happen with regularity in other countries which do release unedited photos. Of course there might be isolated cases, but by and large, people in those countries -- i.e. the rest of the world -- understand that suspects are just suspects, and that it's wrong and illegal to take the law into your own hands. And that the public interest in apprehending dangerous violent criminals also has to be taken into account, and is very high.

Allow me to make another one of my predictions: most of these outdated policies will crumble within the next few years. The moderate, cautious, kid-gloves approach to law enforcement in Germany was designed for a bygone era, in which Germany was much more homogeneous and even criminals shared a language, culture, and set of expectations with the society in which they lived.

When Dieter the local bartender robs a bank with a plastic pistol because he lost his job and can't pay his mortgage, he's probably going to turn himself in and confess ('I just drank a bottle of Schnaps and lost control.'). Everyone knows Dieter and his family, Dieter showed he understands what he did was wrong, nobody was hurt, and Dieter will not only promise to repay the money, he will actually do so. Because Dieter is German, and has roots in the community, and can anticipate regaining some place in it if he shows genuine remorse. The same even goes for Dieter beating his wife after a violent argument. Of course that crime is much more serious, and Dieter will go to prison, but the crime is still comprehensible and (conditionally) forgivable within the pattern of assumptions and practices that make up German culture. 

The sort of crime happening in Germany has changed completely. The laws will need to change as well. There will still be vigorous rear-guard resistance to these changes, but it will eventually fail. As Herbert Stein once said, if something can't go on forever, it will stop.


Greece Sends Thugs on Their Merry Way North

Hussein K., the suspect in the rape and murder of a 19-year-old medical student in Freiburg, was convicted of attacking a woman in Greece in 2014 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. But in 2015, he was released from prison and joined the throng of migrants entering Germany. Even though he violated the conditions of his early release, his name was never entered into the Europe-wide database of wanted criminals.

Why was this allowed to happen? Because of a Greek law nominally intended to reduce prison overcrowding. One of the consequences of the law, however, was that Greece was able to empty its prison of foreign criminals, most of whom seem to have promptly joined the migrant exodus to the greener pastures of Northern Europe. The Badische Zeitung reports (g, my translation, h/t MM):

A high-ranking [Greek] police official said on condition of confidentiality: "Everyone we had who were rapists, robbers, and violent criminals from Afghanistan, Morocco and Algeria as of 2015 is now gone. They were released because of the law of Justice Minister [Theodoros] Paraskevopoulos and joined the stream of refugees. We just exported the problem, rather than arresting them or leaving them in prison."

It's hard to blame the Greeks. After all, they were left to deal with the brunt of the migrant influx, even though their economy teeters on the brink of collapse. All the while Germany was welcoming anyone who managed to enter the country, from anywhere, for any reason, without any pesky background checks or verification.

The temptation to get rid of a bunch of nasty foreigner criminals must have been just too hard to resist. I can imagine the judges chuckling as they warned the rootless foreigners, just released from prison, that they really must check in with their local Greek police station once a month as a condition of their parole -- while just a few blocks away, hordes of random people are being ferried to a new life in the promised land of safe, stable, welcoming Germany.