A recent report in Bloomberg suggests that Germany’s reluctance to deport problematic immigrants makes it much more vulnerable to terror attacks.
The article by Leonid Bershidsky focuses on Anis Amri, the Tunisian jihadist who drove his tractor trailer through a Christmas market in Berlin on Monday, killing twelve people and injuring many more.
Amri, who was shot dead by Italian police in Milan Friday, had a history of violence, theft, drug dealing and other crimes, and yet the German government still failed to expel him from the country, Bershidsky notes.
The 24-year-old Tunisian was already under surveillance on suspicion of terrorist ties and drug-dealing when he was denied refugee status in June 2016, yet he wasn’t deported because his home country of Tunisia denied he was a citizen and would not issue him a passport.
Moreover, as the New York Times reported, German authorities stopped electronic monitoring of Mr. Amri in September, even though he had been identified as a security risk.
So, while the German bureaucracy has done a “stellar job” of reducing the asylum application backlog, Bershidsky contends, “it hasn’t demonstrated similar efficiency in deporting those deemed ineligible.”
In the first 11 months of 2016, Germany was able to process 160 percent more asylum applications than in the same period of last year, yet its deportations in that period increased by just 14 percent. This means that some 215,000 rejected asylum-seekers are still residing in Germany, Bershidsky states.
This number is expected to more than double over the next twelve months.
After auditing Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, McKinsey has forecast that the number of rejected asylum-seekers living in Germany will grow to 485,000 by the end of 2017. Even after a criminal conviction, McKinsey noted critically in its report, it takes 20 months to deport a migrant deemed ineligible for residency.
A comparison of Germany’s ineffective deportation policy with that of Italy showcases the Germans’ relative reluctance to deport and corroborates Bershidsky’s hypothesis.
Last year, a leading military analyst put forth Italy as a model of counterterrorism done right, pointing out that despite many factors going against Italy, Islamic terrorists have failed to kill a single person on Italian soil.
Romanian-born political scientist and military analyst Edward N. Luttwak laid out a persuasive theory in the Nikkei Asian Review, explaining how Italy has been so successful in thwarting Islamic terror attempts. According to Luttwak, Italy’s success is a direct result of its willingness to immediately deport those it considers to be a threat to national security.
In his essay titled “Doing Counterterrorism Right,” Luttwak contrasted Italy with France and Belgium, though he could have also included Germany, noting that although Italy is much more vulnerable than they are, it has been far more effective at stopping would-be terrorists before they strike.
The fact is that something must be done, and deportation of immigrants deemed a credible threat is a logical measure that has proved effective elsewhere.
“European governments are humane; they cannot just put people in boats and push them off toward Turkey or North Africa,” Bershidsky notes in Thursday’s article. “But that hardly justifies the management failure of being unable to deport convicted criminals and repatriate rejects.”
On Friday, German Premier Angela Merkel vowed to streamline the deportation process. She said she had spoken with the Tunisian President and demanded the expediting of the deportation of potentially dangerous Tunisian nationals.
“I told the Tunisian president that we have to significantly speed up the deportation process and increase the number of people sent back,” she said.
One thing is certain, if the German government fails to correct the egregious deficiency in its immigration policy, it deserves to be held responsible for any further terror attacks that result from its inaction.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome