Illegal border crossings into Germany hit 5-year high, defying government claims

An opposition lawmaker with the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party accused the country's interior minister of pushing 'symbolic politics' as new data showed a surge in irregular migration.

Illegal border crossings into Germany hit 5-year high, defying government claims
Antonino D'Urso/LaPresse via AP
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Illegal immigration into Germany reached a five-year peak in the first quarter of 2024, according to the latest government figures, defying claims by federal authorities that heightened border controls were succeeding in stemming irregular crossings.

In a written response to a parliamentary query from Martin Hess, a lawmaker with the opposition Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, the federal government acknowledged 20,000 cases of illegal entry across German borders in the first three months of this year. That figure marks a 2% increase compared to the same period in 2023, Remix News reports.

The data, obtained by the German news outlet Junge Freiheit, showed a particularly sharp rise in unlawful crossings from Poland in March, the most recent month on record. Federal police registered 1,646 irregular entries from Poland that month, up from 911 in February. Illegal border crossings from Czechia also climbed to 644 in March, from 509 the previous month.

The revelations contradict assertions last month by Interior Minister Nancy Faeser that heightened border policing, which has led to 708 suspected human smugglers being arrested since October, was proving effective at curbing illegal migration.

"Those who do not need our protection cannot come to Germany, or should be asked to leave Germany even more quickly," Faeser told the Funke media group in March, claiming the border controls had prevented 17,600 illegal entries.

In a social media post on Tuesday, Hess, whose parliamentary question prompted the government data's release, accused Faeser of presenting "symbolic politics" disconnected from reality.

"While Nancy Faeser is selling the border controls as a success in the media, the figures show that the situation is still not under control," he wrote. "Illegal entries have also increased compared to the same period last year."

The AfD lawmaker called for an "urgent fundamental change" to Germany's immigration policies, arguing that border officials lack "an essential tool for combating illegal migration on the ground" by not having authority to turn back unauthorized entrants at frontiers.

"The upper limit for illegal immigrants must be zero," Hess said. "And for this to happen, a paradigm shift in migration policy is essential."

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