Anti-immigration attitudes on the rise in Germany

Asylum seekers in Germany are facing an increase in negative and hostile attitudes, according to a study into German attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers.

The study, commissioned by the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung Foundation, found that Germans are increasingly hostile towards asylum seekers despite a significant decrease in migrant arrivals in Germany.

The findings reveal that more than half – 54.1% – of respondents expressed negative opinions about asylum seekers, far higher than the peak of the migration crisis between 2015 and 2016.

The study found that there were extremely negative views of asylum seekers in the eastern areas of Germany , where two out of three (63 percent) of those surveyed expressed a negative opinion of asylum seekers.

The increase in hostility toward refugees and asylum seekers in Germany has also been fueled by a number of terrorist attacks in the country and elsewhere in Europe.  

Across Europe, there has also been a rise in anti-immigration sentiment. For example, in Germany more than 900 hate crimes on refugee homes were recorded in 2016.

A similar study released by the Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in February 2019 also showed that new asylum seekers were ten times more likely to be victims of hate crimes in the eastern areas of Germany than in the western parts.

ZEW’s economist Martin Lange said: “We were expecting to find more attacks against asylum seekers in the east than in the west – other studies have found that already and it was being reported in the newspapers, so we had the feeling we would see that in the data too.”

The highest number of asylum seekers in Germany was recorded in 2015 when nearly one million migrants entered the country. Since then, Germans have been divided over migration issues.

In recent years, Germany has toughened its immigration and asylum policies. to curb the influx of migrants and deter others from undertaking the dangerous irregular journey to Europe. These policies include the right to deport failed asylum seekers and limit the number of family reunion visas. Germany also plans to cut refugee funding by one third from 2020. This means that securing asylum in Germany will become even more difficult.  

As a result of rising anti-immigration attitudes and tough immigration policies, many refugees and asylum seekers are heading back home voluntarily. Between 2013 and 2017, Germany facilitated the return of over 140,000 migrants to their country of origin or a third country.  

TMP – 01/05/2019

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Photo caption: Anti-immigration attitudes are on the rise in Germany.