Debate on foreign crime: The extremely dangerous feeling of a helpless state

Politicians and authorities are increasingly perceived as being overwhelmed when it comes to fighting crime. Interior Minister Faeser is right: It is time to talk about the consequences of immigration “without shyness” and “without resentment”. But you have to do it instead of swinging the club of racism.

The knee-jerk reaction already worked in Germany when the republic was nowhere near as polarized as it is today. “My German colleagues are afraid to express their opinion about the foreigners who are delinquent, because the old story about the Nazis immediately starts,” wrote Bochum detective Tania Kambouri in an incendiary letter at the end of 2013, published in the magazine of the police union. In it, the daughter of Greek immigrants complained that police officers, including herself, felt increasingly uncomfortable in operations due to the preponderance of foreign criminals.

Two years later, at the height of the refugee crisis – the timing was coincidence – Kambouri’s book was published, again accompanied by the expected reactions. Her critics from the left lacked “empirical evidence” for the “claim” that migrants from Muslim countries lacked “basic respect for German state authority.” Her experiences, such as being called a “bull bitch” or being rejected because of her gender, were classified as general racist hate speech. In the right-wing spectrum, the policewoman’s observations were seen as the only true evidence of failed integration and as a sign of the downfall of the West.

This was and is not helping anyone. Nevertheless, the pattern continues to emerge with every act of violence. It’s just that now some are really longing for a migrant with or without a German passport to turn out to be a villain in order to see themselves confirmed, and others hope that it wasn’t so, so that they can save themselves having to point out that the origin doesn’t play a role. From a legal and sociological perspective, this is true: everyone is equal before the law. And people who grow up in poverty and bad, even brutal, conditions are more likely to be violent themselves. Migrants often live in social hardship.

Conclusion limited and pill-pale?

But that doesn’t change the fact that “foreign crime” exists. And that it is increasing, as the latest police crime statistics (PKS) show. 41 percent of the suspects in all officially registered crimes did not have German citizenship. The proportion of foreigners in the total population is around 16 percent. The significance of the data can be debated. In a constitutional state, a suspicion is a suspicion. There are more refugees and asylum seekers living in the Federal Republic than ever before. If one puts their number in relation to the proportion in the population, there is no increase in the number of suspects without a German passport. Crimes such as “unauthorized entry” and “unauthorized stay” can only be committed by foreigners. Tourists who commit theft also appear in the statistics.

But if the conclusion from the PKS were very limited or even pill-pale, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser from the SPD, her Brandenburg CDU colleague Michael Stübgen, who is also chairman of the Conference of Interior Ministers, and the President of the Federal Criminal Police Office, Holger Münch, would not have to bother Explain and interpret statistics together and announce the consequences. Then Faeser wouldn’t have to say in many interviews what she would have been verbally stoned for in the SPD two or three years ago. Foreign crime must be discussed “without shyness or resentment”. “If you don’t follow the rules, you have to leave.”

Where to go? To the social welfare office? To the lawyer? Everyone knows that the number of deportations will not increase significantly because the countries of origin are not interested in taking in criminals. It’s still like this: Once you’ve made it to Germany, you can stay here. Only time will tell whether the traffic light coalition’s package, which the FDP describes as a “deportation offensive”, will actually achieve anything. Those affected have the right to a lawyer – this is how the rule of law works. You can already guess how this ends. And who pays the lawyer? It boils down to the taxpayer. You can already imagine how this will be received by the population.

Faeser praises the fact that the traffic light measures after 2015/16 “were not met with severity”, which is astonishing. The SPD was part of Angela Merkel’s government and was one of those who supported “We can do it” without any compromise. Whoever predicted back then that if nothing changed in practice, the asylum law would be refined, those persecuted politically, religiously, ethnically or because of their sexual orientation would be the ones to suffer, also because the acceptance of accepting “foreigners” among the population was dwindling, was branded at least as a “racist” or “right-wing populist.”

Just ask Boris Palmer

Faeser’s findings that it is time for “tough action by the rule of law”, “quick sentences” and “sufficiently” well-equipped police have been common knowledge for years. The debate she wants will not happen, the left wing of the SPD and the majority of the Greens will ensure that – just ask Boris Palmer. The fact that the Social Democrat has corrected herself at this point – of course the AfD poll numbers play an important role – and sees the need for a discussion at all must be acknowledged. But how thin the line is that Faeser walks between “without shyness” and “without resentment” is shown by her avoidance of certain questions, such as whether there is an upper limit for immigrants or whether Germany has become more dangerous due to unbroken migration.

The Federal Republic is still one of the safest countries in the world. But the fear is spreading. The extremely dangerous feeling of an overwhelmed and helpless state is becoming increasingly widespread. The fact that politics is actually at an end can be seen on a large scale in the deportations and on a small scale in the increasingly bizarre dispute in Berlin over yes or no to a lockable fence around Görlitzer Park in Kreuzberg. The Greens are against the enclosure and have good reasons. Because this just moves drug crime to other streets. But is that why you don’t do anything? That can’t be the solution either.

The alarmism fueled by the right and a general suspicion of foreigners is counterproductive. It is just as wrong to downplay or gloss over the proportion of criminals without a German passport, to cover it up with multicultural talk or even to ignore it. It is also anything but helpful to accuse politicians like NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul of “discrimination”, i.e. racism, when he said, as he recently did in “Spiegel”: “I would like to aggressively address this issue that worries people. So no one A mood is created that drives people into the arms of the AfD and that ensures that more and more people are moving away from the state.” The man is right. There is a need to talk. Let’s hope that the debate doesn’t end up like the discussion after Tania Kambouri’s incendiary letter: You do-gooder! You Nazi! That doesn’t lead to anything.

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