Passport

Bavaria to Berlin: Read Our Lips, No More Migrants

Germany is preparing to receive upwards of 1 million refugees. In Bavaria, the doors aren't quite so open.

Migrants and refugees crowd the platforms at the Keleti (eastern) railway station in Budapest on September 1, 2015. Keleti, the biggest Hungarian railway station was closed today as police evacuated people trying to get on trains bound for Germany. AFP PHOTO    / ATTILA KISBENEDEK        (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)
Migrants and refugees crowd the platforms at the Keleti (eastern) railway station in Budapest on September 1, 2015. Keleti, the biggest Hungarian railway station was closed today as police evacuated people trying to get on trains bound for Germany. AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK (Photo credit should read ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images)

German leaders in Berlin might be preparing to receive up to 1 million asylum-seekers this year, but in the southeast German state of Bavaria, officials aren’t nearly as willing to welcome them.

At a Friday news conference in Munich, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said if Berlin fails to better control Germany’s borders from a “mass influx” of migrants and asylum-seekers, Bavaria will introduce “defensive measures” to protect itself from them.

“We agreed that if the federal government does not take effective steps soon to limit the continued flow of asylum-seekers … Bavaria reserves the right to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court,” Herrmann said.

Their threat to enforce a migrant cap likely doesn’t have any real teeth. According to German law, leaders in Berlin determine immigration rules, and federal police patrol the borders.

Bavaria shares its border with Austria, through which many migrants travel to reach Germany. According to officials in Munich, roughly 241,000 migrants or asylum-seekers arrived in Bavaria in the past month, and only 86,000 were transported to other German states.

Bavaria is now preparing to hire an additional 3,700 government employees to help manage the arrivals, but insists the border, which is patrolled by federal police, needs to be secured.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is unlikely to budge on that. On Wednesday, she and French President François Hollande jointly addressed the European Parliament and called for more solidarity with the refugees, many of whom are fleeing the Syrian civil war.

And on Thursday, she criticized conservative Hungarian policies toward migration and told German television station ARD that shutting the borders is not even a possibility.

“The problem is, you can’t shut the borders,” Merkel said. “Then we’d need a 3,000-kilometer fence, and we’ve seen in Hungary what happens when you build a fence. People find other ways.”

Bavaria’s push for increased border security coincided Friday with a BBC report that there have been some 500 attacks on migrant homes in Germany this year — up three times from 2014. According to German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, two-thirds of the attacks were carried out by people who had no prior criminal record.

Germans are largely split over their country’s generous refugee policies. Earlier this year, the German Office for Migration and Refugees announced it would begin accepting asylum-seekers even if they had not been registered elsewhere in Europe, technically a violation of EU law. The announcement sparked even more refugee interest in Germany, where social benefits are also more generous than in most other EU countries.

Calling the attacks “shameful,” de Maizière said the culprits “must be made to understand that they are committing unacceptable offences: assault, attempted murder, arson.”

Photo credit: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP/Getty Images

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