There have been stationary controls at the borders with Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland for over a week. The number of refugees has recently risen sharply, especially at the Swiss border. What have the controls achieved so far?
The green tram on line 8, which crosses the border between Basel in Switzerland and the city of Weil am Rhein in Germany, makes an unscheduled stop. A federal police officer wearing a yellow protective vest gave the train driver a signal with his arm. The passengers will be checked. On average, a train passes here every 15 minutes.
Several thousand people cross the borders of the two countries every day. Visiting friends, shopping, going to work: if it weren’t for border controls, travelers would hardly notice the change between the two countries.
Since last Monday, the invisible boundaries between Switzerland and Germany have become more noticeable to commuters again. Mobile and stationary border controls are now possible again since the Interior Ministry registered with the EU.
The goal: to combat smuggling and irregular migration even more strongly. At the start, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said: “The Federal Police can now flexibly deploy the entire package of stationary and mobile border police measures, depending on the current situation.”
More controls on the tracks
This now means more controls at the border with Switzerland – especially on the rails. Two officers get into the compartment of the tram: “Good day. The Federal Police, ID cards please!” The journey is always delayed by a few minutes due to passport controls.
However, most passengers take it calmly this Monday. An older woman thinks it’s good to be checked on the train: “It doesn’t bother me at all. I have a passport and everything with me and I’m not a criminal.”
However, a younger passenger from Switzerland wonders about the sense of the whole thing before he gets out: “That’s nonsense. There’s no need to control people.”
Tram traffic is also being monitored more closely.
Every now and then passengers are asked to get off. The documents are then checked more closely by the officials. Investigation measures may be initiated under certain circumstances. Is there a crime? Is asylum being applied for? Meanwhile, the train continues across the German border.
The checks will continue until the weekend. However, Federal Interior Minister Faeser expressed herself positively before the deadline expired. She told “Bild am Sonntag” that this would protect people and that human traffickers, for whom human lives counted nothing, would be prosecuted. She did not provide any figures on the checks carried out.
Police union is critical
The deputy chairman of the police union in Germany (GdP), Sven Hüber, has so far taken a much more sober view of border controls. In the asylum application process in particular, the controls do not result in a reduction in numbers and no relief for the administration.
“First of all, this meant that in a certain special case, namely during checks at Basel Bad train station and on the tram, there were more rejections because more checks were carried out and potential asylum applicants then had to go through their asylum procedure in Switzerland and not in Germany.” said Hüber. “But overall, apart from this special situation, it doesn’t help in terms of the number of refugees admitted.” The protection needs of an asylum seeker still have to be examined in every case.
The city of Freiburg has not yet noticed any changes in terms of a decline in the number of unaccompanied minors arriving. The number of accesses remains at a consistently high level, according to a written statement from the city’s press office.
The conclusion of the deputy chairman of the police union in Germany (GdP), Hüber, has so far been sober.
Smuggling structures smashed
Police officers at the border carry out random checks on car traffic across the Swiss border. There are around 16,000 Germans who work in Basel and travel by car every day. According to Federal Interior Minister Faeser’s wishes, there should be as little change in everyday life as possible, said the SPD politician a week ago at the start of the measures.
Markus Dembowski is one of the commuters who travel to Switzerland every day to work. He can usually cross the border unmolested. As far as the effectiveness of the controls is concerned, he is also skeptical: “On the one hand, I understand that migration should also be controlled. But I don’t think anything of the ‘border control’ measure to curb migration because I don’t believe that anyone will stop themselves There are plenty of opportunities for people who really want to bypass the border controls.”
Given the arrests of smugglers, GdP chairman Hüber is also only partially convinced of the controls at the border with Switzerland. Smugglers are arrested, but: “To be honest, they are always just the drivers, the last links in the chain. And we as the police have to work with our partners in neighboring countries to uncover the criminal structures in the background, so to speak, and confiscate the assets and thereby cause the stream to dry up.” This effect cannot be achieved with the current measures.
The new controls at the national borders with Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland will initially be carried out for ten days, starting on October 16th. They can be extended for a total of two months, according to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. It is not yet clear whether the controls will continue after this week.