The two contrasting sides of German refugee policy

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 2015 decision to welcome around one million refugees and asylum seekers has led to mixed fortunes four years on.

Mohammad Zarzorie, from Latakia in Syria, arrived in Germany in 2015 and now works as an engineer in a chromium plating factory on the outskirts of Munich. (Ruairi Casey/TNH)

Rejected, but ‘tolerated’

Bringing new arrivals into the workforce has been the cornerstone of Germany’s integration efforts since 2015.

‘It’s not how I was before’

Like Zarzorie, Johnson Nsiah, from Ghana, also arrived in Germany after crossing the Mediterranean in 2015. He was sent to live in Kempten, a large town in Bavaria around two hours drive west of Munich.

Johnson Nsiah, from Ghana, came to Germany with his wife in 2015 after they fled death threats in Libya. His wife and children are allowed to remain, but Nsiah is required to return to his home country and has been denied the right to work in Germany.

Separation by nationality

In June, the German parliament approved a raft of new asylum laws, including some measures to strengthen the rights of rejected asylum seekers in steady jobs, but also others that lengthened maximum stays in detention centres and streamlined deportations.

The two extremes

The local immigration office in Bavaria has shown a reluctance to grant permits for work or to access to three-year apprenticeships, which if pursued by someone like Nsiah would almost certainly lead to a job offer and a secure residence permit.

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