“No one is illegal” runs the German Green Party’s slogan. But one of their number, Mayor Boris Palmer, is not so sure. Critics accuse him of “scaremongering,” but serving as mayor of Tübingen for the last nine years, Palmer has witnessed first-hand the crisis that unlimited migration is causing. His experience has prompted him to publicly ask if his warnings are “scaremongering or reality”.
Last Saturday Palmer took to Facebook to write: “In the last 40 days, 410,000 refugees have come to Germany. My sober testimony, that such numbers ask too much of the municipalities in the long term, has provoked a storm of indignation. As so often, emotions, not facts, are dominating the increasingly terrifying debate.”
A few days earlier he made waves with another Facebook post, in which he insisted “We didn’t create one million refugees in a year.
“[That’s] more than 10,000 refugees per day. If it continues, we’ll have 3.65 million more people in Germany in the next twelve months. I’m sorry, we cannot make that happen. The government must act, otherwise our recording system will collapse and social order will implode.”
The post went viral, gaining over 2,000 ‘likes’ and nearly 700 ‘shares’. It also gained a lot of criticism in the comments section.
But Parker has not backed down. Speaking to Spiegel online, he has stood by his comments. Welcoming one million migrants is “extremely ambitious, but doable”, he said. However, he predicted: “if 10,000 refugees a day continue to come, the asylum package just debated will not be sufficient. The full force of its failure will hit municipalities within the next 12 to 18 months.”
The state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, where Tübingen is located, has felt the full force of the migrant crisis as it plays host to the highest number of migrants: 54,000 in the first nine months of this year with more coming daily.
As a result, Parker’s day job as mayor sees him running from one meeting to the next in an effort to keep the situation under control. That experience has given him a brutally different perspective on the migrant crisis to that of his party mates, most of whom are more interested in lofty hypotheticals than stark reality.
“I want an honest debate on the refugee crisis,” he said.
The Greens have criticised conditions in the migrant centres, which are already deteriorating. But Parker says a choice must be made.
Either Germany continues with her open door policy, but accepts that “in all probability the numbers would rise so high that we would be forced to house the majority of refugees in camps, no longer able to integrate them into society and the labour market.”
The alternative is to decide against such a scenario. “Then you have to talk about a practical upper limit and ensure that this is adhered to,” Palmer said. “As would almost all other European countries have to do as well.”
The latter scenario is in the interest of migrants, as well as Germans, Parker said. “Many come so that they no longer fear for their lives. To allow them to come in search of a new life, to arouse their hopes and then not be able to fulfil them, would be a human and social disaster.”