The German chancellor says walls aren’t the answer, as her own citizens face widespread crime committed by migrants.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel took a veiled swipe at President Donald Trump’s immigration platform and campaign pledge to “build the wall,” saying, “putting up walls and cutting oneself off will not solve the problem” in a speech in Mexico City on Saturday.
Merkel, whose own country has struggled to absorb the more than one million refugees it has welcomed over the last few years, frowned upon Trump’s border security platform and his proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico during her joint appearance with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. Insisting that illegal immigration could not be solved “by simply improving the border facilities,” the German chancellor dismissed the president’s efforts to protect Americans without mentioning his name.
“Obviously the main reason for people leaving must be addressed on site first, which means putting up walls and cutting oneself off will not solve the problem,” Merkel insisted. “It’s an issue you can study well in the history of China with the [Great] Wall of China, you can study it in the history of the Roman Empire. Essentially, only when great empires have managed to forge sensible relationships with their neighbors and to manage migration has it been a success.”
But Merkel’s infamous “open door” and “we can do it” refugee policy has caused her approval rating to dip sharply as Germany has struggled to deal with spikes in crime, much of it caused by migrants.
On New Year’s Eve a year-and-a-half ago, more than 2,000 men in several German cities, including Cologne, sexually assaulted more than 1,200 young German women. Most of the 120 suspects identified were migrants, and many had taken advantage of Germany’s “open door” policy and arrived in the country during the two years leading up to the assaults.
Statistics released by Germany’s federal police in late April showed that migrant crime increased by at least 50 percent during 2016, with 174,438 total migrant criminal suspects. In addition, approximately 48 percent of those suspects had come from majority Muslim countries. Although Germany’s migrants account for just two percent of the overall population, they represent more than eight percent of all criminal suspects.
And yet, Merkel has continued to frown on Trump’s strong rhetoric, his desire to temporarily halt the U.S. refugee program, his immigration and national security platforms and his proposed travel ban affecting citizens from six terrorism-compromised countries.
Although Mexico is refusing to pay directly for Trump’s border wall and Congress is failing to move quickly on approving a construction down payment, Trump remains adamant that the wall will be built.
Merkel and Peña Nieto appeared to take another jab at Trump’s policies on Saturday when they reaffirmed their commitment to free trade and Peña Nieto expressed his hopes that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could be renegotiated. Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump railed against trade agreements such as NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that gave foreign countries an advantage and hurt the U.S. economy.
Although Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP, NAFTA’s fate still hangs in the balance.
“Through (international supply chains), wealth for a lot more people has been generated, and these value chains should not be destroyed again unnecessarily,” Merkel said as she touted the benefits of free trade for Germany and Mexico. “I hope these talks are a big success … And I’d like to offer thanks that the interests of German companies are also being taken into consideration.”
After meeting with Trump and other world leaders at NATO headquarters and the G-7 summit in May, Merkel expressed her extreme displeasure with Trump’s refusal to commit to the Paris climate agreement, saying the talks had been “very difficult” and “very dissatisfying” as Trump listened to arguments for the U.S. remaining committed to the agreement. Days later, on U.S. soil, Trump announced in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House that the U.S. would exit the agreement, saying it would cost 6 million American jobs between now and 2040, and would do nothing to improve the climate.