Migration: “One hundred percent control cannot work”


As of: September 19, 2023 9:09 a.m

At the moment, many people are arriving in Europe again, and many municipalities in Germany are overloaded. But even if politicians want it, migration cannot be controlled 100 percent, says migration researcher Hannes Schammann.

tagesschau.de: In Germany you hear from many municipalities that they are at their limit. There is not only a lack of accommodation, but also places in schools and daycare centers. Do you know any municipalities that still have capacity?

Hannes Schammann: We see that the situation is actually tense almost everywhere. But there are differences in the degree of tension: Some municipalities took good precautions and developed flexible accommodation concepts at a time when the number of people arriving was low.

But you’re right: it’s not just about accommodation, it’s also about daycare places and the like. And this is where immigration meets an already ailing system. We are already noticing this very clearly in most municipalities. So we have to learn to become more efficient in the future.

To person

Hannes Schammann is a professor of political science with a focus on migration policy at the University of Hildesheim. He heads the Migration Policy Research Group there. Before that, he worked in migration and integration policy practice for six years: as a project manager for migration and integration at the Robert Bosch Foundation, as a consultant for fundamental questions of integration at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and as a coordinator for integration projects at the Federal Working Group Ev. Youth social work.

tagesschau.de: How can municipalities become more efficient?

Shameman: On site you have to make sure that you take into account the fluctuations in the number of incoming refugees in terms of accommodation and integration in flexible concepts. And we have to work on better distribution. Where is there currently available accommodation? Where do the people who arrive here fit best with their skills?

We have to bring people from the outset to the places where they can get as involved as possible. You can then quickly become part of the job market. This also reduces the costs of integration. Ideally, not just at the state level, but throughout Germany or Europe.

social benefits as an incentive?

tagesschau.de: For some parties, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser’s plans do not go far enough. Among other things, the CSU, parts of the CDU and also the FDP demand that asylum seekers should receive benefits in kind instead of money in order to reduce incentives to migrate. Can that succeed?

Shameman: These benefits in kind already exist – and to varying degrees in the federal states. We cannot detect any significant differences where there are benefits in kind instead of money. All we see is that benefits in kind cause considerable bureaucratic effort. After all, someone has to buy food or clothing and give it to the refugees.

In general, I don’t think much of the instrumentalization of social benefits as an incentive, regardless of the direction. The few studies that exist suggest that you shouldn’t expect too much from it.

tagesschau.de: What incentives are there that attract refugees to certain places?

Shameman: The incentives that are scientifically proven are family or close friends. Refugees hope that a network will enable them to be well received in society and find accommodation or work more easily. This has been the case for hundreds of years and you can see it in the Germantowns and Chinatowns in many American cities, for example.

tagesschau.de: So family and friends outweigh social benefits?

Shameman: Nobody will forego moving in with family or close friends just to receive slightly higher social benefits somewhere else.

Migration cannot be fully regulated

tagesschau.de: The Federal Minister of the Interior wants to limit migration to Europe together with European partners. Can that succeed?

Shameman: When wars and crises arise, people are forced to flee. The main message in the current debate should therefore be that 100% control of migration cannot work. You should have the courage to admit it to yourself.

In right-wing populist circles, a lot is about using migration policy as an example to show that liberal democracy is at its end and the state is failing. If you now promise to fully regulate and control, then it will be grist to the mill of the right-wing populists.

tagesschau.de: Even if, as you say, complete control is not possible, can the Interior Minister’s plans ensure that fewer refugees come to Germany?

Shameman: Securing the EU’s external borders can lead to fewer refugees coming to Europe in the short term. But there will be a global increase in the number of people forced to leave their homes due to the climate crisis in the next few years. It won’t help us much if we press the numbers in Europe for a moment.

We need international solutions that go beyond Europe. We have to think about how we can legalize some migration in order to open up ways for people to work. This means that it is very much about directing migration into the right channels. But that will take time.

The interview was conducted by Viktoria Kleber, ARD Capital Studio.

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