Amid a surge in irregular migration, German authorities have escalated their border control measures, including armed police officers stationed on motorways from Poland to Germany to deter people-smuggling activities. While the government aims to demonstrate its commitment to addressing the issue, a closer look in a rural border district reveals a lack of effective control.
Altenberg, a small town in Saxony near the Czech Republic, grapples with frequent incidents of people being smuggled into the area, according to the local mayor, Markus Wiesenberg. Smugglers leave individuals in this region, only to disappear and potentially return with another group. This situation not only strains local services but also raises concerns among residents about safety in the woods, where migrants sometimes leave sleeping bags and campfires.
Irregular migration has become a prominent topic in Germany’s national debate, with far-right groups leveraging the issue to gain ground in regional elections. In response, ministers initiated “temporary” border checks last month along Germany’s land borders with Poland, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland. These checks were renewed recently, despite Germany’s inclusion in the border-free Schengen Zone of the European Union.
According to Federal Police, September witnessed 21,366 illegal entries into Germany, marking the highest monthly figure since early 2016. Germany remains a top destination for asylum seekers, receiving around 30 percent of all applications lodged within the EU, Norway, and Switzerland in August.
Within a former youth hostel in rural Saxony, over 50 men await decisions regarding their asylum applications and futures. Among them is 33-year-old Muhammad Abdoum, a Syrian asylum seeker who has successfully applied for asylum and is optimistic about finding employment. His positive outlook contrasts with the challenges posed by the surge in irregular migration, prompting German authorities to intensify border control efforts to manage the situation effectively.