Germany’s Angela Merkel agrees to strengthen borders
Under pressure from political allies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to a plan that would tighten immigration policy at the country’s borders. The Monday night compromise, a reversal from Merkel’s longtime open-border policy for refugees, reflects her efforts to hold together her coalition government in the face of growing anti-immigrant sentiment. Germany welcomed more than a million immigrants in 2015, including hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. And although the influx has slowed since then, many Germans are demanding stricter border controls because of concerns about crime and the challenges of assimilating so many newcomers. The rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany party has put pressure on mainstream politicians to reevaluate their pro-immigration policies.
Under the compromise proposal, German immigration officials would set up “transit centers” along the border to detain immigrants while their applications are processed and would turn away those who have already applied for protection in other European nations. Europe has absorbed hundreds of thousands of immigrants in recent years fleeing war, terror, and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa.
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