Merkel’s Dilemma

The grit that brought German Chancellor Angela Merkel to power may be what prepares her downfall. As her power fades throughout Germany and Europe, Ms. Merkel is rapidly running out of options to deal with the immigration issue that has engulfed the continent over the past year.

The Syrian immigration crisis has allowed the rest of the world to see how “open, liberal” nations would deal with massive migration, and results have not been promising. Early on, Ms. Merkel’s Germany was virtually the only major European nation with an open immigration policy. Britain’s exit from the European Union had much to do with its desire to control its own borders. Nations such as Hungary closed off their borders entirely from the beginning. Right-wing populist movements have risen in power throughout Europe as citizens voice their discontent with nations letting people suffering from warfare in their homes.

Although many opponents of free immigration have cited concerns that the government is prioritizing the rights of refugees over their rights, this is not a reason to abolish Germany’s immigration policy altogether. The government needs to crack down on potential violence in refugee communities and ensure that priority is still given to citizens, as they by definition are the most important people to that specific national government. However, keeping the borders open is a moral matter rather than a political issue. The governments of Europe, in fact, have the moral obligation to accept Syrian refugees and offer them a haven from warfare. Doing so would perpetuate the injustice that is being committed in the Syrian region and European governments would be harming human rights with inaction. The political aspect of this issue is how governments deal with the influx of migrants. Funding is required from UN agencies such as the UNHCR, as the refugee problem is just as big in Europe as it is in Syria, to maintain critical infrastructure that have been strained under immense pressure. Additionally, the citizens of Germany and elsewhere need to learn to be patient in times of need. War is a universal constant; that is, the suffering of innocent people is always present in any war. The people of Germany, which has known two devastating wars in the last century, should know this better than anyone. It will take time for the government to begin handling this refugee crisis, but surely they will be able to build a capable response with time.

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